Thursday, September 15, 2005

Human Trafficking

It seems like I've been posting about serious (not-so-fun) subjects lately - I suppose that's the kind of mood I've been in. I went to a luncheon today that featured the founder of the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition, an organization devoted to taking action politically and in the streets to combat human trafficking, with special focus on children smuggled into the US. You can check out their website at (some parts of the site are still under construction.) I cried listening to the horror stories of children as young as the age of three who are smuggled into the country for prostitution. Many of these victims won't snitch on their pimps because they are oftentimes threatened that their families will be hurt if they disclose any information to law enforcement officers. Apparently, 5000 T-visas are available each year, specifically for victims of human trafficking, but only ~500 petitions have been filed since these visas first became available. There are stringent requirements and victims must produce evidence regarding the perpetrators; most victims refuse to do so out of fear of retaliation.

There are groups throughout San Diego County that recruit children and teens (in Oceanside, for example); unfortunately, the children are placed in juvenile hall as pimps go scot-free. The US only recently (in 2000) drafted the Human Trafficking Act that recognized that the prostitutes themselves aren't the true criminals and shifted culpability to their predatory recruiters. There's a bill in the CA legislature (AB-22) that is currently going through a third reading (how many more readings do you need?) The speaker at the luncheon commented that the US has drafted anti-human trafficking legislation, but none has actually been ratified. If this is true, I am thoroughly appalled. I plan to volunteer my time to BSCC and see what I can do to help. Man, it looks like my school grades will suffer this year with everything I'm getting involved in...

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