Director of Public Policy
Junior League of Los Angeles
Position Paper in Support of AB2810
Human trafficking, also called trafficking in persons, is modern-day slavery that comes in many forms and is relatively ignored despite its affecting the world in pandemic proportions. Men, women and children are trafficked into forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. According to the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP report, 2005) published by the United States government’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, approximately 600,000 to 800,000 persons are trafficked across international borders each year with up to 12.3 million in bondage at any given moment. The report also estimates that about 80 percent of these numbers are women and girls, and 50 percent are under the age of eighteen. These numbers, however, do not include the millions of people that are trafficked within their own national borders. When the numbers of those being trafficked both internationally and intra-nationally are combined, the number of victims can go up to 4 million. Somewhere between 17,500 to 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States annually, mainly for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Sex trafficking is highly profitable and makes up to an excess of twelve billion dollars annually.
Trafficking into the United States is an acknowledged problem, but often ignored is the fact that trafficking also occurs domestically within U.S. borders. Many girls are trafficked from other countries (including the United States) into Mexico where they are prepared for sex work in the United States. When the victims are considered “ready”, they are smuggled across the U.S.-Mexican border where they can earn their traffickers tens of thousands of dollars per week. One victim interviewed by Landesman in the NY Times (2004), said she was born in the United States and sold to a trafficker when she was four years old. She was transported to different locations all over the United States and back and forth across the U.S.-Mexican border. Her customers included businessmen, police and even a child psychologist. Experiences such as these make it even more difficult for victims to seek or find help: when you are being exploited by those who are supposed to help you, there is no one to whom you can turn for safety.
Junior League of Los Angeles Position on Human Trafficking
The Junior League of Los Angeles supports AB2810 as State, and even local governments must become actively involved in combating trafficking. At the moment, many perpetrators get off with no or minimal penalties which are less harsh than those inflicted on drug offenders. Law enforcement personnel, social workers, and legal personnel must be trained to understand trafficking in persons, recognize victim profiles and appreciate the special circumstances and needs of victims. If the people in the community are trained to recognize instances of trafficking and are better equipped to rescue victims and prosecute traffickers, human trafficking could be slowly reduced because each trafficker prosecuted could help save thousands of future victims.