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Metropolitan King County
Council News

Human Trafficking public awareness campaign to begin in January


Metro Transit ads, County websites, Helpline to be used to raise awareness of crisis and help victims


In response to a motion initiated by Metropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, this week the County Executive transmitted a report to the County Council announcing that King County will implement a public awareness campaign to combat Human Trafficking beginning in January 2013.

“I have seen the issue of human trafficking begin to spiral out of control both in my time serving as a federal prosecutor and here as a member of the County Council,” said Dunn. “We must better educate the public on what human trafficking is, the problems it presents here in King County and how to identify victims and potential victims. This campaign is an enormous step in the right direction in our fight against human trafficking.”

Human trafficking, as defined under Federal Law, includes children involved in the commercial sex trade, adults age eighteen or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of “labor or services,” such as domestic workers held in a home, or farm-workers forced to labor against their will.

It is estimated that between 300 and 500 children will be bought and sold in King County this year and children as young as 11 have been known to have been sexually exploited for commercial purposes in the County. The state of Washington has always been a focal point for human traffickers due to a number of key regional characteristics including an abundance of ports, proximity to an international border, and a dependency on agricultural workers.

The Executive’s report confirms that human trafficking in our region is a growing problem but the extent to which is still unknown. It also states that increased awareness can help encourage public response and actions to eliminate demand for trafficked workers, prosecute traffickers, and rescue and restore victims to stabilize lives.

In July the King County Council gave unanimous approval to Dunn’s motion, which was also co-sponsored by many of his council colleagues, called upon for the County Executive to develop a human trafficking public awareness campaign. The motion call on the Executive to explore using King County Transit Division public service advertising to inform the public about the crimes associated with human trafficking, and to let victims know about the resources available to help them.

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