WeHo City to Host Free Virtual Community Training About Human Trafficking

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Photo by Paulo Murillo for WEHO TIMES

The City of West Hollywood is hosting a free virtual training about issues related to human trafficking aimed at equipping participants with the tools to support and advocate for victims. The City invites the community to tune in on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. via Zoom webinar.

The training is open to the public, however registration is required to attend. To register, visit https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_NHNZ8sA_Q2G789u9pkMpKQ.

A link to the Zoom event, including a call-in number for those unable to join online, will be emailed to participants who are registered prior to the event.

The training will be led by Dawn Schiller, an expert survivor-leader in the anti-trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault movements, who has previously provided trainings on this topic for the City of West Hollywood. Schiller offers valuable firsthand insight to community advocates on survivorship, education, and service to others. She is a national speaker, educator, consultant, and author. In 2020, Ms. Schiller participated in the City’s Human Rights Speakers Series panel discussion about human trafficking. In 2019, she provided training to City of West Hollywood public safety personnel, law enforcement personnel, fire department personnel, and code compliance officers about human trafficking, notice 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 labor or commercial sex act.” Victims 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, more than 25 million people are trafficked worldwide, and California is one of the largest sites in the United States.

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the scope and impact. The National Human Trafficking Hotline has seen 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 provider of services to survivors, has seen a 185 percent increased trafficking cases during the pandemic, compared to last year.  Additionally, 100 percent of CAST’s most urgent cases have been homeless people who were trafficked.

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 INFOto 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 info@journeyout.org.

For more information about the Human Trafficking Community Training, contact Kerry McCormack, City of West Hollywood Event Services Coordinator, at (323) 848-6385 or at kmccormack@weho.org.

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