#sextrafficking | West Hollywood Hosts Human Trafficking Forum Next Week

The City of West Hollywood will
host a Human Trafficking Education Forum on Tuesday.

The forum will take place at 10 a.m. at the City Council Chambers located at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., south of Santa Monica. This event is free and open to the public. Those attending are asked to RSVP by phone at (323) 848-6371 or by email to bsmith@weho.org. Validated parking will be available at the adjacent five-story West Hollywood Park structure, limited to availability.

There are an estimated 24.9
million human trafficking victims worldwide, and victims can be any age, race,
gender, or nationality. While human trafficking can happen to anyone, people
who are already in vulnerable situations are preyed upon and may be more likely
to be targeted by traffickers.

WEHOville has reported in recent months that there are 10 illicit massage parlors in West Hollywood staffed by Asian women who, according to reviews on the RubMaps.ch website, provide sex to the men who visit them.  The New York Times on March 2 published a story describing a proliferation of such massage parlors in the United States, in some of which the Asian women are held captive and forced to perform sex work.

The city’s Code Compliance and the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station in recent months have conducted inspections of the massage parlors cited by WEHOville to ensure that they comply with state and city ordinances regarding health and safety. Also, the City Council has voted to update the sex trafficking alert posters that must be posted in such establishments so that they can be read by women speaking Korean, Vietnamese and Thai languages, the nationalities of many of the women identified in the RubMaps reviews.

In 2016, the human
trafficking cases reported in California represented 15% of all such reported
cases in the nation. Many factors make Los Angeles County a hub for human
trafficking including the region’s proximity to ports and international
airports and its diverse population.

Participating in the Human
Trafficking Education Forum will Cast LA, the Coalition to
Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, which is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit
organization that is working to put an end to modern slavery and human
trafficking through comprehensive, life-transforming services to survivors and
a platform to advocate for groundbreaking policies and legislation. Over the
past two decades, CAST has supported thousands of survivors through every phase
of their journey to freedom from counseling, to legal resources, to housing,
educational and leadership training, and mentorship; and

Another prominent participant
is Dawn Schiller, who has been a survivor-leader in the anti-trafficking, domestic
violence, and sexual assault movements. As a speaker, trainer, and author,
Schiller combines her personal experiences and academic studies in difference,
power, and discrimination to raise awareness about sex trafficking, domestic
violence, and teen victimization.

For more information about
the Human Trafficking Education Forum, contact Bonnie Smith, City of West
Hollywood Public Safety Supervisor, at (323) 848-6371 or bsmith@weho.org. For
people who are deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

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