The United Nations Orange County chapter hosted its 74th-anniversary gala on Saturday to discuss the local crisis of human trafficking, awarding the efforts of those who they say have made an impact and climatizing those who seek to make a change.
Human trafficking, recognized by the United Nations as “modern slavery,” is defined as the act of trafficking by means of threat, use of force, deception or coercion for the purpose of exploitation.
In order to better understand the process of human trafficking, Paul Chang, regional anti-human trafficking coordinator at the U.S. Department of Labor, asked members of the audience to draw a diagram., and He then proceeded to explain the three stages human trafficking victims go through as part of a supply and demand chain.
Stage one is recruitment. There are seven known methods traffickers use in order to recruit victims. Of these methods, falsely advertised job opportunities account for the highest number of persons trafficked globally, approximating 43%, according to A21, self-declared abolitionists of the 21 century.
Other methods of recruitment include being deceived or sold by family or, by friends, being incited by lovers, promised immigration, rescue or abduction.
A report published by the US Department of State in June indicated that a large number of child sex trafficking survivors in the U.S. were at one point a part of the foster care system.
The vulnerabilities developed in children coming from broken homes exposes them to higher risks of trafficking, according to Linh Tran, Administrator of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force.
Stage two is transitory, during which victims are conditioned to carry out the functions for which they have been trafficked. The conditions under which victims are conditioned may go undetected and appear normalized, said Tran.
“People living in crowded housing conditions, paying fifteen dollars a night for housing, going to apply for political asylum, and then going to seek work at employment agencies, all in the same geographic area,” Said Chang. “If you google that area, I can tell you you’ll probably see how much of all of the logistics in stage two that enable [human trafficking].”
Stage three is work. 80% of human trafficking victims are brought into Orange County due to more favorable business opportunities, yielding a higher profit. According to Tran, traffickers can make more revenue selling a young woman in Orange County than they would in Riverside County or San Bernardino County.
”I would say an average of how much you can sell a girl here for would range between $800 to about $1000 a night,” Tran said. “That would be about eight to ten different customers that they would have to solicit that night.”
When addressing human trafficking, individuals usually refer to the two most common forms: labor trafficking and sex trafficking.
The majority of human trafficking victims in Orange County are victims of sexual exploitation; within the sex trafficking victim demographics, the majority of victims are American girls, according to Tran.
While the Orange County Task Force is a service provider for victims, they rely heavily on community partnerships to assist in rehabilitation after rescue.
A global report issued by the U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime disclosed that sexual exploitation is in fact the leading cause for human trafficking, and estimates approximately 79% of trafficking cases fall under that category. Meanwhile, labor trafficking accounts for 18%.
While the estimates of victims trafficked within the U.S. remain uncertain, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Orange County task force has assisted over a thousand victims from 42 different countries in its 15 years of service.
Human trafficking experts shared their knowledge on what the current landscape of Orange County looks like with regards to the issue and what can be done to better the current situation.
”We ask our community partners to provide the long-term comprehensive services that [victims] need because we know that they can’t return back home,” Tran said. “If they had a home, they probably would not have been trafficked, to begin with.”
The money sign is a figurative representation of the money man, Chang explained. These individuals orchestrate the events of human trafficking.
“There is demand everywhere when it comes to prostitution and sex trafficking,” Tran said. “No city is immune, no county is immune, no state is immune.”
According to the UN, every country is affected by human trafficking.
When discussing the actions individuals can take in order to combat sex trafficking, Marsh stated that the most efficient response is to shift the conversation and talk about how society views sex.
“If you teach your boys and men that women are objects, then they’re gonna go out there and think sex is okay,” Marsh said. “Teach your men to treat people as human beings and not as a transaction.”