The City of West Hollywood recognizes January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. During the month of January, advocates, organizations, and individuals unite to raise awareness about the topic of human trafficking.
In commemoration of the month, from Monday, January 10, 2022 through Wednesday, January 19, 2022, West Hollywood City Hall and the globe lanterns above Santa Monica Boulevard between N. Robertson Boulevard and Hancock Avenue and will be lit blue, which is the international color of recognition for human trafficking awareness.
National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is observed on Tuesday, January 11, 2022. On this day, the City of West Hollywood will participate in raising awareness about #WearBlueDay, an initiative of the Department of Homeland Security DHS Blue Campaign, a national public awareness campaign that encourages community members to help 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.
The DHS Blue Campaign is designed to educate the public, law enforcement, and other industry partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking and how to appropriately respond to possible cases. The campaign leverages partnerships with the private sector, non-governmental organizations, law enforcement, and state and local authorities to maximize national public engagement on anti-human trafficking efforts for the prevention of human trafficking and protection of exploited persons. For more information about the DHS Blue Campaign and how to participate, visit www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign.
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 labor or commercial sex act.” Victims of human trafficking are of all genders, ages, races, countries, and socioeconomic statuses. 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 kinds of human trafficking include 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, and California is one of the largest sites of human trafficking 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 their existing tactics to take advantage of the unique circumstances of the pandemic, exacerbating the conditions for victims of human trafficking and increasing the risk of human trafficking for others. The National Human Trafficking Hotline saw a 40 percent increase in emergency calls. The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), a Los Angeles-based human rights organization and one of the nation’s largest providers of services to survivors of human trafficking, saw a 185 percent increase in human trafficking cases during the pandemic and 100 percent of CAST’s most urgent trafficking cases have been homeless people who were trafficked.
Victims of slavery and human trafficking are protected under United States and California law. If you are a victim of human trafficking or if you are aware of a trafficking situation, there are resources to help:
- The National Human Trafficking Hotline connects victims and survivors of sex and labor trafficking with services and support to get help and stay safe. The hotline also receives tips about potential situations of sex and labor trafficking and facilitates reporting that information to the appropriate authorities in certain cases. Toll-free phone and SMS text lines and live online chat function 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. Deaf or hard of hearing or speech-impaired people can contact the hotline by dialing 711.
- The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) helps people who have been in forced prostitution, forced labor, and slave-like conditions by providing legal and social services. To request services or report tips regarding potential human trafficking cases, contact the toll-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].
- The Los Angeles County District Attorney, Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program is comprised of specially trained victim services representatives who are strategically assigned throughout the county to assist minor and adult victims of trafficking. For assistance call (213) 974-2039.