Human Trafficking - Page 2
What can I do beyond these very rudimentary efforts at trying to get some awareness of my own neighborhood? For one thing, I can talk about it to anyone who will listen. I can join with others to make sure this topic doesn't go unnoticed because it is uncomfortable to discuss. I've committed to help create a "Traffik-Free" community coalition similar to one they started in Pasadena with Oasis, the West Coast affiliate of Stop the Traffik. But most of all, I can take my blinders off and really start to pay attention to my surroundings. If you think there is something sketchy going on, trust your instinct. A massage parlor with a large blinking sign that says "Open 24 hours" is definitely something worth reporting.
As moms, we know when something is not right. Many of us are home during the day and we consciously and subconsciously observe things. The latest rescued child victim I've heard about is Shyima, who was sold as a slave to a family in Egypt. She cooked and cleaned for the family (which included five children), who emigrated from Egypt and had Shyima smuggled along to continue working for them (ABC News, February 23, 2010). A neighbor finally called authorities three years ago because she knew something was wrong when she noticed the little girl was always working and never went to school. This isn't a call for us to become clones of Mrs. McClusky on Wisteria Lane, but to not ignore when something is bothering us and to speak up for someone who may not be able to speak up for herself.
Southern California is one of the hubs in human trafficking. Last fall, officials rescued 52 children and arrested nearly 700 people over three days in a nationwide crackdown on child prostitution (LA Times, October 27, 2009). Two children were rescued in Riverside and four suspected customers of child prostitutes were arrested in Orange County. It does happen here and we can do something about it. If you have something to report or need to obtain aid for a victim, please use the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline: (888) 3737-888 or the Los Angeles Human Trafficking Task Force hotline: (800) 655-4095.
Top photo appears on page 5 of the Trafficking in Persons Report 2008.