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 issue of human trafficking.
In commemoration of the month, the globe lanterns on Santa Monica Boulevard between N. Robertson Boulevard and Hancock Avenue have been lit blue, which is the international color for human trafficking awareness, through Tuesday, January 19, 2021.
National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is observed on Monday, January 11, 2021. 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/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 go to 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 LGBT 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 has intensified the scope and impact of human trafficking. 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 of human trafficking, has seen a 185 percent increase in human trafficking cases during the pandemic, compared to last year. Additionally, 100 percent of CAST’s most urgent trafficking 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 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@example.com.
For more information about National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, please contact the City of West Hollywood’s Community Events Coordinator Larissa Fooks at (323) 848-6413 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.
The City of West Hollywood has declared a local emergency in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Individuals are advised, at this time, to stay at home as much as possible and limit close interactions to those in your household. When in public for essential needs, community members should maintain your space with social (physical) distancing of at least six feet, and cover your face. Public Health officials recommend that everyone continue to follow physical distancing and infection control directives and wear a clean face covering that securely covers both your nose and mouth when in in public. Additionally, people 65 years old or older and all people of any age with underlying health conditions should remain at home whenever possible; people in these categories should only leave their residences to seek medical care, exercise, or obtain food or other necessities.
West Hollywood City Hall is currently closed to the public and has suspended all in-person transactions. Most public City buildings and facilities remain closed. City Hall remains accessible for business and essential services with transactions to be conducted by phone (323) 848-6400 and via the City’s website at www.weho.org.
This press release was produced by the City of West Hollywood. The views expressed here are the author’s own.