West Hollywood is observing National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January and is raising awareness about human trafficking.
Through Wednesday, Jan. 19, West Hollywood City Hall will be illuminated in blue as well as the globe lanterns above Santa Monica Boulevard between Robertson Boulevard and Hancock Avenue. Blue is the international color of recognition for human trafficking awareness.
West Hollywood is also raising awareness about #WearBlueDay, an initiative of the Department of Homeland Security DHS Blue Campaign. It encourages community members to spread the word about human trafficking by taking photos of themselves, friends, family and colleagues wearing blue clothing and sharing them on social media using hashtag #WearBlueDay. For information, visit dhs.gov/blue-campaign.
DHS defines human trafficking as “modern-day slavery [that] involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.” Victims are of all genders, ages, races and socioeconomic backgrounds.
People who are already in vulnerable situations, such as migrants and refugees fleeing conflict or disaster, homeless LGBTQ youth, women and girls, and children in poverty, may be more likely to be targeted by traffickers.
Human trafficking includes sex trafficking, forced labor and domestic servitude. Any person under the age of 18 involved in a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking.
According to the Polaris Project, which publishes data based on calls, text messages, webforms, emails and webchats with the National Human Trafficking Hotline, over 25 million people are trafficked worldwide. California is one of the largest places where human trafficking exists in the United States.
The COVID-19 pandemic intensified the scope and impact of human trafficking. According to the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report issued by the U.S. Department of State, as COVID-19 caused a global economic downturn, traffickers adapted existing tactics to take advantage of the circumstances of the pandemic. The National Human Trafficking Hotline reported a 40% increase in emergency calls.
The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking reported a 185% increase in human trafficking cases during the pandemic. CAST’s most urgent trafficking cases involved homeless people. Anyone who is a victim or knows of a trafficking situation is urged to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888)373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to 233733.
The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking provides legal and social services for victims. For information, call (888)539-2373.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney, Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program has specially trained victim services representatives who assist minor and adult victims of trafficking. For assistance, call (213)974-2039.
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