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STOP Human Trafficking

By   /  January 6, 2017  /  No Comments


Pat Murphy

That young girl you just saw being dropped off in front of the motel as you drove by on your way to work. That girl with the short skirt and tight fitting blouse. The one wearing a lot of make-up. Do you think she’s just another school girl going to the library to do her homework? Chances are fairly good that she is a victim. Yes, a victim!

Human Trafficking, better described as modern day slavery, is one of the most lucrative criminal enterprises in the world. Trafficking in people is a serious crime and a serious violation of human rights. Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. According to the UNODC, almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or a destination for the victims.
Sexual exploitation accounts for 79% of all cases of human trafficking. Other motivations for trafficking include forced labor, domestic servitude, forced marriages, and even organ removal. Victims of trafficking can be of any age and gender but women and girls are disproportionately affected.

Soroptimist International has taken a strong stand against Human Trafficking and is working with local and international agencies to bring a stop to this inhumane practice. The Soroptimist’s held a collaborative meeting on Thursday January 5 at the United Methodist Church in Vista. It was attended by Soroptimists from Vista, Oceanside, Escondido and Carlsbad. There were also representatives from several churches in North County, from Project Life, from North County Life Line, from Shining Stars Foundation and from Together Freedom of San Diego. Tina Paulson from Together Freedom was the featured speaker. Her talk was eye-opening and extremely informative.

  • Tina Paulson Talks to Collaboration Meeting Attendees

The purpose of Together Freedom is to provide services and wrap-around support for girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking here in the United States. This includes mentoring, transportation, tutoring, friendship and assistance with personal and medical care, The average age of these children is 13 years old and victims are recovered daily by local law-enforcement, FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to their long-term care facility, FACESS, Together Freedom volunteers provide 28 areas of service and professional evaluation to victims immediately after they are rescued.

Young girls are at a greater risk because of their age and gender. According to Paulson these girls who are most often written off as just “troubled teens”, are in actuality girls that are being forced into prostitution. A staggering 40% of these young women that have become sex slaves are between the ages of 14 and 17. They are being controlled with drugs and threats to their families. They are trapped into lives they never wanted.

Paulson introduced one of the Together Freedom volunteers and asked her to tell our assemblage a story of a recent experience. Her name is Cathy and her story was about the help she gave to a young woman who had been rescued from people who were selling her for sexual purposes. The young victim wouldn’t talk to the officers that wanted to help her. She didn’t trust them, mainly because they were men and men had been exploiting her. Cathy had the experience, the training, and the empathy. She took the young victim aside and asked her “If you could be anything in the world, what would you want to be?” “I want to be good.” came the soft reply. Soon hugs and tears followed. It was a start and hopefully a new beginning.

In our recent election, proposition 35 passed with an overwhelming 81.4%. Proposition 35 increased prison sentences and fines for human trafficking convictions. It requires convicted human traffickers to register as sex offenders and it requires registered sex offenders to disclose Internet activities and identities. It also increased fines dedicated primarily for human trafficking victims. Most importantly this proposition prohibits having the evidence that the victim engaged in sexual conduct from being used against the victim in court proceedings. Laws protecting the victims are still needed, in addition to the laws that punish the real offenders, the human traffickers. The victims are not who society should be punishing. In many cases they have already lost their childhood, their homes, and tragically their families.

Paulson told us how we can help. We can start by supporting the organizations that are fighting against Human Trafficking. We can join these organizations or donate funds that will enable their volunteers to continue the fight. We can also help raise the awareness about this injustice to human life. Paulson suggested that we all talk to our friends and co-workers saying things like, “What kind of DIRT pays for this?” Help spread the word that Human Trafficking is unacceptable.

The Soroptimists of Vista want to raise awareness too. On Saturday January 21st they will be holding their annual Human Trafficking AWARENESS DAY WALK. The walk will start in front of the Wave Water Park in Vista (101 Wave Drive) at 1 pm. Walkers will be carrying signs that read “HONK to stop Human Trafficking”. I’ll be there and I hope you will join us.



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