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January is National Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention month. There are 20,000-30,000 victims of human trafficking here in the US, and some accounts estimate that 80% of human trafficking cases involve sexual exploitation, according to dosomething.org 80% of those victims are underage girls, and there is even a market for infants. This blog post includes information about human trafficking on both a national and local scale, books in Riverside County’s selection that discuss this issue, and resources for victims and witnesses of human trafficking. Please note that all book summaries below are those written by Goodreads.
Sold, YA Fiction by Patricia McCormick
“Although Lakshmi’s family is desperately poor her life still contains simple pleasures; but, when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all the family’s crops, Lakshmi’s stepfather sends her away to take a job to support her family. When she arrives at “Happiness House”, full of hope, she learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution. An exceptional novel suitable for teens and adults.” –Goodreads
Almost Gone: Twenty-Five Days and One Chance to Save Our Daughter, BIO 004.678 BAL-B
“This is the never-before-told, riveting true story about a teenage Christian girl who was seduced online by a charming young Muslim man from Kosovo, and her father who ultimately worked with the FBI to save her from disappearing forever.” –Goodreads
Up for Sale: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, YA 306.362 BEH
“Up for Sale takes a hard look at human trafficking, identifying perpetrators and telling the stories of victims through their own words. You’ll discover why some people become vulnerable to trafficking and you’ll read about what their lives are like on a daily basis. You’ll also meet some of the courageous individuals and organizations working to free people from lives in bondage…” –Goodreads
Prostitution and Sex Trafficking, YA 306.74 PRO
Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls are Not for Sale, 362.88 LLO
“A deeply moving story by a survivor of the commercial sex industry who has devoted her career to activism and helping other young girls escape the life.” –Goodreads
Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade- and How We Can Fight It, 306.362 BAT
“Today, the human trafficking trade generates $31 billion annually and enslaves 27 million people around the globe, half of which are children under the age of 18. In this book, David Batstone profiles the new generation of abolitionists who are leading the struggle to end this appalling epidemic.” –Goodreads
The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine, 362.76 MAM
“Born in a village deep in the Cambodian forest, Somaly Mam was sold into sexual slavery by her grandfather when she was twelve years old. For the next decade she was shuttled through the brothels that make up the sprawling sex trade of Southeast Asia. Trapped in this dangerous and desperate world, she suffered the brutality and horrors of human trafficking—rape, torture, deprivation—until she managed to escape with the help of a French aid worker. Emboldened by her newfound freedom, education, and security, Somaly blossomed but remained haunted by the girls in the brothels she left behind. Written in exquisite, spare, unflinching prose, The Road of Lost Innocence recounts the experiences of her early life and tells the story of her awakening as an activist and her harrowing and brave fight against the powerful and corrupt forces that steal the lives of these girls. She has orchestrated raids on brothels and rescued sex workers, some as young as five and six; she has built shelters, started schools, and founded an organization that has so far saved more than four thousand women and children in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. Her memoir will leave you awestruck by her tenacity and courage and will renew your faith in the power of an individual to bring about change.” –Goodreads
In addition to these books, there are resources in California and across the country that help victims and witnesses of human trafficking. The national human trafficking hotline number is 1-888-373-7888. If you doubt whether you are witnessing a case of human trafficking, it is best to call the number. Too many calls are better than none. Also, while 911 is an important number to call in emergencies, the hotline is better equipped to deal with human trafficking cases specifically without treating the girls like victims and criminals. In California, the organization Together Freedom provides victims of human trafficking with food, shelter, witness protection, social/life skills training, medical, life planning, liaison to legal services, and more. Those in the program usually remain there for two years and have a case manager with them every step of the way. Together Freedom has locations all over California, including San Diego and Lake Elsinore. Visit http://togetherfreedom.org/ to learn more.
Human Trafficking is a global issue but it is important to acknowledge the prevalence of it in our local communities. In the local area, San Diego and Anaheim are the most frequent targets for human traffickers. Being conscious of this issue could possibly stop some cases. Flagging inappropriate posts on social media, being aware of who your children socialize with, and avoiding modeling scams can prevent someone from being lured into human trafficking. Changes in behavior, slipping grades, becoming withdrawn, and other things out of the ordinary may indicate a possible victim of human trafficking.
To learn more about human trafficking, you can watch the Netflix documentary I am Jane Doe and check out some of these books from your local library.