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Council adopts plan to place human trafficking information in key locations across King County

Summary

Working to ensure that those being exploited know where they can turn for help

Story

The Metropolitan King County Council today gave its unanimous support for continuing King County’s fight against human trafficking by expanding the County’s outreach effort to public and government facilities.

The outreach campaign will focus on locations and services where trafficked individuals are likely to see the messages. The adopted motion calls for the placement of human trafficking public awareness materials in county facilities such as the jail, public health clinics, transit centers, courthouses, and other locations.

It also calls on the Executive to explore information posting opportunities with the County’s many partners, such as community clinics, shelters, and hospitals, where trafficked individuals may utilize services and in turn see information on who to turn to for help.

“We should do whatever we can to make sure victims of human trafficking know that resources exist to help them escape this dreadful crime,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, the prime sponsor of the legislation. “Our goal is that with more locations this information is in, the more calls from victims seeking help are made.”

“Human trafficking is an egregious form of modern slavery, and by raising awareness we can help vulnerable people from falling prey to exploitation,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips. “The effort is aimed at giving people information that will help them identify and avoid potential dangers.” 

“Even in our neighborhoods, children as young as eleven years old are sold into slavery--a travesty from which they cannot recover,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “The more we can do to fight this through public awareness and assuring victims that the WARN network is there to help, the better.”

“A coordinated campaign of public awareness may offer a means of escape for children forced into the sex trade, domestic workers held in a home, or farmworkers made to labor against their will,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “There is no place in today’s world for this kind of human oppression.”

The motion calls for the King County Executive, in partnership with Washington Anti-Trafficking Network (WARN) to develop and implement a public outreach and information posting program to increase public awareness of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children.

“Human trafficking is abhorrent; it is 21st century enslavement,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, a cosponsor of the legislation. “While we must continue to fight this humanitarian tragedy, I am pleased that today the Council took this step toward helping victims and raising public awareness.”

“Through this motion we hope that having access to information on services and agencies key to those being trafficked will assist them in their plight for safety and freedom,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett. “It is one more tool to use in our efforts to end human trafficking.”

“I’m pleased to support this important legislation. We all have a responsibility to watch out for and protect people who are held against their will or abused physically, mentally or fiscally,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “These new measures will give people the information they need and in the process will aid in the eradication of trafficking from our society.”

The information on the human trafficking materials would include contact information for an existing national anti-human trafficking or exploited children organization, such as the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, and include the telephone number and email address on all public awareness materials. All materials developed will be accessible in multiple languages and based on input from WARN.

“We applaud efforts to provide information and access to services to anyone being exploited through human trafficking,” said WARN Program Manager Kathleen Morris. “It is so important to give people trapped in abusive, exploitative situations the information and tools they need to reach out for help on their own terms.” 

Human trafficking is defined under federal law, and victims include children involved in 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.

Human trafficking is considered to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world, and the human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children are serious crime problems on a worldwide basis, in Washington State, and in King County. It is estimated that between 300 and 500 children will be bought and sold in King County this year alone.

In January 2013, King County launched a comprehensive public awareness campaign using County resources and private sector partnerships such as Clear Channel Communications and Titan Media. The purpose of the campaign on Metro buses, Sound Transit, and billboards across the region was inform the general public about what human trafficking can look like and also to provide a hotline number for people to call if they suspected trafficking or were being trafficked. The adopted legislation builds the previous campaign, one more step in the Council’s effort to fight human trafficking.

Read more about this legislation on the King County Council’s LEGISEARCH system at
http://mkcclegisearch.kingcounty.gov and type in “2014-0077”

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