Human trafficking has been called “modern day slavery” and it increased dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic.
In order to deal with this problem, the City of West Hollywood is organizing free educational training on human trafficking issues. Residents and community members are welcome to attend the online training, which aims to equip participants with the tools necessary to support and advocate for victims.
The community training on human trafficking will take place on March 23 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. via the Zoom webinar. The training is free and open to the public, but registration is required to attend. To register, please visit https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_NHNZ8sA_Q2G789u9pkMpKQ.
“As important as it is to train our public safety personnel, it is just as essential to educate and sensitize our city commissioners, advisory board members and the community at large,” said Lauren Meister, member. of the municipal council. “Being able to recognize the signs of human trafficking is the first step in combating human trafficking. “
“Human trafficking is a crisis all over the world. Hundreds of thousands of victims are trafficked into the United States, ”said Council member Sepi Shyne. “This training provides our community and municipal leaders with the essential tools needed to join the fight against human trafficking. We have to know what to look for in order to see something and say something.
The training will be led by Dawn Schiller, a survivor-leader expert in anti-trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assault movements. Schiller provides first-hand information to community advocates on survival, education, and service to others.
Schiller, educator, consultant and author, participated in the City’s 2020 Human Rights Speakers Series Roundtable on Human Trafficking. In 2019, she provided training to public security, law enforcement and firefighters as well as code compliance officers on human trafficking, notification requirements and standards for businesses.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking is “modern day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of work or commercial sex act.” Victims of human trafficking are of all genders, ages, races, countries and socio-economic status.
While human trafficking can happen to anyone, people who are already in vulnerable situations – including migrants and refugees fleeing conflict or disaster, homeless LGBTQ youth, women and girls. and children in poverty – are preyed upon and may be more likely to be targeted by traffickers. The different types of human trafficking include sex trafficking, forced labor and domestic servitude. Anyone under the age of 18 who is involved in a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking.
According to the Polaris Project, which publishes data based on calls, texts, web forms, emails and online chats with the National Human Trafficking Hotline, more than 25 million people are trafficked in the world, and California is one of the largest human trafficking sites in the United States.
The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the scope and impact of human trafficking. The national human trafficking helpline recorded a 40% increase in emergency calls. The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), a Los Angeles-based human rights organization and one of the largest providers of services to survivors of human trafficking, recorded an increase of 185 % of human trafficking cases during the pandemic, compared to last year. In addition, 100% of CAST’s most urgent trafficking cases involve homeless people who have been trafficked.
If you are a victim of human trafficking or are aware of a trafficking situation, there are resources to help you:
• The National Human Trafficking Helpline connects victims and survivors of sex trafficking and work with services and support to get help and stay safe. The hotline also receives advice on potential sex trafficking and labor situations and facilitates reporting this information to the relevant authorities in certain cases. Toll-free phone and SMS lines and live online chat functionality are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days. To contact the hotline, call (888) 373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree or 233733. People who are deaf or hard of hearing or have speech impairments can contact the hotline by dialing 711.
• The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) assists people who have been subjected to forced prostitution, forced labor and slavery-like conditions by providing legal and social services. -A free 24/7 hotline at (888) Key-2-FREE or (888) 539-2373.
• Journey Out provides comprehensive services and support to help victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. For assistance, call (818) 988-4970 or email [email protected]
For more information on community training on human trafficking, please contact Kerry McCormack, City of West Hollywood Event Services Coordinator, at (323) 848-6385 or [email protected]