Los Angeles city and county officials today announced a partnership with five community organizations and a large law firm to seek the public's help in reporting human trafficking.
The Human Trafficking Poster Outreach Project aims to get Los Angeles businesses to take part in the SB 1193 Anti-Human Trafficking Implementation Project, which has been in effect since last April.
Under the program, a dozen types of businesses are required to put up posters and information about human trafficking. The posters are meant to help victims seek help and increase reporting of human trafficking.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined with Supervisors Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas, Councilwoman Nury Martinez, City Attorney Mike Feuer and other city and county officials to support the campaign at a news conference at the National Council for Jewish Women's Los Angeles office.
“You always think of this kind of an issue being in a third world or some other foreign country or foreign land, when in reality it is right here in front of us,” Knabe said. “This issue should have the same credibility and same awareness as the war on drugs did many years ago ... It is that bad, that horrific and that heinous.”
Ridley-Thomas said the children of Angelenos are not for sale.
“It is inhumane, it is sickening, it is disgusting for a grown person -- typically a man -- to subject a child to these indecent and inhumane acts,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Let's get the record straight, (the victims) are not prostitutes and they are subject to what I consider statutory rape.”
The six organizations signing onto the project include the National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, OASIS USA, Jewish Labor Committee Western Region T'ruah and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, according to county officials.
A poster created by a Los Angeles youth will be selected for the street outreach phase of the program, which begins today.
Garcetti said human trafficking happens in malls and in what seem like reputable businesses in the Los Angeles area.
“When we hear the stories of survivors, we are so compelled to action, that today, I think, is a giant step forward,” Garcetti said. “Suddenly if we imagine how this force has been multiplied, imagine that times 10 million people in this county. If they know, and if they see and if they can be the folks who say `something looks a little suspicious,' or if somebody trafficked ... can actually see a way out and know there is a better future.”
Los Angeles is known as the third-highest point of entry to the United States for human trafficking victims. The city is also 13th on the FBI's list of child sex trafficking areas.
—City News Service