What is human trafficking?
According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, human trafficking is defined as:
(A) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of commercial sex act in which that act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion; or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or
(B) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
The first part of that definition refers to what is commonly known as sex trafficking, while the latter part of the definition refers to labor trafficking.
What is child sex trafficking?
Child sex trafficking refers specifically to individuals under the age of 18, and according to the above definition, any child who is induced to perform a commercial sex act is considered a trafficking victim whether or not the situation includes force, fraud, or coercion. A commercial sex act refers to any situation in which sex is exchanged for money, goods, or anything of value. Child sex trafficking is also known as Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, or CSEC.
Is human trafficking happening in Siskiyou County?
Yes. While there are not currently any documented cases or convictions, we do know that according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center there were 1,323 reported cases of human trafficking in California in 2016.
Interstate 5 is a major transportation route for traffickers, and is situated between Sacramento and Portland, which are both hubs for human trafficking on the west coast. In order to reach their destinations, traffickers are transporting their victims through the heart of Siskiyou County.
In February 2016 a couple in Shasta County was convicted of human trafficking a total of 7 victims. Their convictions included abduction for the purpose of prostitution, pimping a minor, child abuse, kidnapping, kidnapping for extortion and human-trafficking a minor for a sex act, pandering and false imprisonment by violence.
Learn more about the factors that put our community at risk for human trafficking here.
Who is being trafficked?
According to the California Office of the Attorney General, trafficking victims include men, women, and children. Victims are both American citizens and undocumented immigrants. Many victims lack family support, are isolated, and have backgrounds that include physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and substance abuse.
Who are the traffickers?
According to the California Office of the Attorney General, traffickers are “those who recruit, harbor, obtain, and provide victims to buyers of labor or sexual services.” Traffickers are both men and women of all ages, and can be business owners, gang members, pimps, family members, intimate partners, or strangers to their victims.
Why don’t trafficking victims just leave their traffickers?
There are many reasons why a human trafficking victim may not leave their trafficker. First off, a victim may not self-identify as a victim, or even understand what human trafficking is. Prior experiences with abuse may inhibit victims from realizing that they are being manipulated or exploited. Victims may also blame themselves, may not have a supportive family or community to return to, or may fear authorities. Additionally, traffickers can use threats, violence, and blackmail to prevent victims from leaving.