King County Executive Dow Constantine joined the Metropolitan King County Council today in proclaiming Tuesday, Jan. 11, as Human Trafficking Awareness Day in King County.
“Modern-day slavery is known as human trafficking, and it takes the form of forced labor and prostitution, debt bondage and forced marriages,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who sponsored the proclamation. “In Washington, we can be proud that we were the first state in the union to criminalize human trafficking in 2003, and King County successfully prosecuted the state’s first human trafficking case in 2009. The unique partnerships we have been able to create here are making a difference for immigrants and for teens forced into prostitution by gangs.”
Representatives from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Bridge Residential Recovery Program for prostituted youth, the Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network (WARN) and the Port of Seattle joined the Council and Executive in recognizing the regional partnership that has come together to combat all forms of human trafficking.
“We must continue our ongoing efforts to identify and rescue exploited and enslaved people and bring traffickers to justice,” said Executive Constantine. “The partnerships we are creating around this issue can be a successful model for national efforts to combat human trafficking.”
A National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness was designated by Congress, and the State of Washington also recognizes the occasion.
It is estimated that 14,500 to 17,500 people, primarily women and children, are trafficked annually to the United States. Unable to speak or understand English, many immigrant victims of trafficking are held captive and isolated, unaware of their rights, powerless to access services, and afraid to ask for help, according to WARN.
“Our efforts here represent a major transition in the approach to human trafficking,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Gael Tarleton. “Now, the work of law enforcement, courts and social services focuses on prosecuting traffickers while also protecting and supporting their victims. We want youth and adults who have been abused and coerced to know that it is safe to come forward and get help to escape from traffickers.”
Anyone who needs help in identifying or rescuing victims of human trafficking can contact WARN at the International Rescue Committee in Seattle at (206) 623-2105 or go to their Web site.
WHEREAS, in 2003, Washington became the first state to criminalize human trafficking and now recognizes a National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness designated by Congress on January 11; and
WHEREAS, human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that includes forced labor, sexual exploitation, debt bondage and forced marriages by use of fraud and/or coercion; and
WHEREAS, human trafficking is a billion-dollar industry with 27 million people held in slavery around the world. It is estimated that 14,500 to 17,500 people, primarily women and children, are trafficked annually to the United States; and
WHEREAS, unable to speak or understand English, many immigrant victims trafficked into the United States are held captive and isolated, unaware of their rights, powerless to access services, and afraid to ask for help; and
WHEREAS, King County is a participant in the model multi-agency Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network (WARN) that brings together service providers, criminal justice agencies, and advocacy groups to rescue victims from these conditions: and
WHEREAS, local partnerships with federal, state, county and city agencies, the Port of Seattle, and community advocates are providing training for law enforcement, court staff, and human services agencies about how to work together to identify and rescue victims of human trafficking; and
WHEREAS, WARN partners have been successful in rescuing many victims, including children forced into prostitution, who now are treated as child-abuse victims and provided with recovery services; and
WHEREAS, local efforts in recognition of Human Trafficking Awareness Day include a poster campaign by Seattle Against Slavery, and Washington Anti-Trafficking Engagement Day in Olympia;
NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Metropolitan King County Council, do hereby proclaim January 11, 2011, as
HUMAN TRAFFICKING AWARENESS DAY
in King County and urge all citizens to join in efforts to combat all forms of modern-day slavery.
DATED this tenth day of January, 2011.
Councilmember Kathy Lambert, County Council members and County Executive Dow Constantine, recognize members of the regional network helping the survivors of human trafficking in King County: (l-r) Marie Hoffman, Outreach Program Coordinator for the Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network, Sean O’Donnell, King County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Emma Catague, Asian and Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center, Gael Tarleton, Port of Seattle Commissioner and Leslie Briner, Bridge Residential Recovery Program director.