Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Encourages Californians to Identify and Report Suspected Human Trafficking

Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SAN FRANCISCO --- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today marked National Human Trafficking Awareness Day by issuing an alert with tips to help Californians identify and report human trafficking.

Human trafficking is slavery, and unlike the slavery of the past, this modern form of slavery is a hidden crime. It is estimated to be a $9 billion worldwide industry, with more than 14,500 individuals trafficked each year into the United States. The trafficking is often done by transnational gangs that transport guns, drugs and human beings across the border into California.

Identifying instances of human trafficking is difficult because of the problem’s scope: victims of human trafficking work in a variety of industries, including the sex trade, domestic labor, restaurants, sweatshops, construction, massage parlors, and agriculture. Due to the hidden nature of the crime, perpetrators often operate unnoticed, and those who suffer are not likely to self-identify or report themselves as victims of the crime of “human trafficking.”

To a general observer, victims of human trafficking may look similar to other workers in their respective professions, but there may be some signs or indicators of abuse.

- Indicators include excessive work-related injuries, bruises and other evidence of beatings, untreated sexually transmitted diseases, untreated critical illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease, malnourishment, severe psychological distress, and poor dental health.

- Other important signs of abuse include a limited or nonexistent ability to speak English, the inability to speak to another individual by themselves, a general confusion about their location or surroundings, lack of knowledge about American culture, excessive working hours, evidence of being controlled, inability to come and go freely, submissive or anxious and fearful, no passport or other forms of documentation, has few or no personal possessions, is unpaid or paid very little, and under 18 and possibly involved in prostitution.

Attorney General Harris offered the following resources for reporting suspected victims of human trafficking:
- The National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888
- The U.S. Department of Justice Hotline at 1-888-428-7581 or
- Report it to your local law enforcement authorities

For additional information, visit the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking in California website at http://oag.ca.gov/human-trafficking.

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