Human trafficking -- modern-day worker and sexual exploitation -- is taking place today, right here in Alameda County.
Human trafficking -- the organized exploitation of human beings for profit through prostitution or involuntary labor -- is "the world's fastest-growing criminal enterprise," according to state Attorney General Kamala Harris. "Human trafficking is ... an estimated $32 billion-a-year global industry. After drug trafficking, human trafficking is the world's second most profitable criminal enterprise (along with) illegal arms trafficking .... The United States is one of the top destination countries for trafficking in persons. California is one of the nation's top four destination states ...."
About 80 percent of human trafficking in the United States involves sexual exploitation and 43 percent of California's known human trafficking cases occur in the Bay Area. Only one out of every 100 trafficking victims is rescued -- and two of every three victims of this modern-day slavery are women.
The League of Women Voters of Alameda is sponsoring a free community forum on this form of modern-day slavery at the Alameda Free Library from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday. The library's rear doors open at 6:30 p.m. for this event, so you can speak to local activists and officials who collaborate to combat human trafficking crimes and support its victims.
These local public agencies and nonprofits are on the front lines of trafficking: the Alameda County District Attorney's Office; MISSSEY (Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth); Alameda Family Services; and Dreamcatcher Youth Services provide shelter and services for homeless and trafficked Alameda County youth. Dreamcatcher will open a new shelter in Alameda specifically for young victims of trafficking later this year.
The Alameda Police Department is an event co-sponsor. Police Capt. Joe McNiff said: "The APD fully supports the attorney general's efforts in combating the criminal organizations ... responsible for the trafficking of guns, drugs and human beings. Every officer ... receives continuous training in human trafficking. When ... human trafficking is suspected, it is investigated to the fullest."
Special Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey E. Tsai of the state attorney general's San Francisco office, will speak and lead a panel discussion including Josie Camacho from the Alameda Labor Council; Maia Sciupac from Human Exploitation and Trafficking (H.E.A.T.) Watch (in the Alameda County DA's Office); and Jadma Noronha from the Sage Project in San Francisco.
Event co-sponsors include the Alameda Police Department and three local Leagues of Women Voters (LWV of Eden Area, LWV of Oakland and the LWV of Berkeley-Albany-Emeryville).
To learn more, visit the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at http://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/national-human-trafficking-hotline/the-nhtrc/overview) and the links on the LWVA's public events page at http://alameda.ca.lwvnet.org/Public_Events.html. For event information, call 510-869-4969, email the LWVA (email@example.com) or visit the LWVA public events page.
Jon Spangler is a member of the League of Women Voters of Alameda.