January is Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month. Human trafficking is considered to be the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. It is estimated to be a $150 billion industry, according to the International Labor Organization (2014). Almost 800,000 victims are trafficked through international borders annually, and Asians and Pacific Islanders (APIs) make up the largest group of people trafficked into the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Los Angeles is a top point-of-entry location due to its diverse communities, proximity to international borders and ports, as well as its significant immigrant population. CPAF has dealt primarily with international trafficking situations and has seen culturally sensitive trends while assisting survivors of human trafficking. Here are some facts we gathered while helping our survivors:
1. Lack of knowledge: Many human trafficking victims don’t know that they are victims. Manipulation, intimidation and fear often layer their situations, confusing them. Education about trafficking helps them to gain insight into what has happened in their lives.
2. Fear: International trafficking victims often fear deportation and experience a lack of safety. Trafficking perpetrators can harm the victims’ and their families anywhere, including in their home countries.
3. Love: Intimate partners can force and/or groom an individual into trafficking, blurring lines to include domestic violence/sexual assault.
4. Shame: Trafficked individuals may feel trapped and uncertain of how to pay off their debt to their traffickers. This can create a sense of isolation and an immense feeling of guilt for being in such a position. These circumstances can become barriers in reaching out to their family/friends or asking for help.
5. Control: Traffickers work in trafficking “rings/gangs” to tighten their control and power over those they traffic. This creates a real sense of danger and forces a trafficking survivor to perform any task given all for the sake of staying alive.
During the month of January, our media partner LA 18 featured CPAF to talk about human trafficking. Links to the interviews will be added as they are provided.