SEATTLE – Following a recent FBI report that Washington led the nation in the number of child prostitutes recovered as part of a nationwide crackdown on child traffickers and pimps, Seattle Against Slavery (SAS), Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, and other non-profit and governmental partners announced a unique new multi-language poster campaign empowering victims of human trafficking to self-identify and access help.
For the past seven months, volunteers and professional staff from SAS, the Attorney General’s Office, Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network (WARN), the King County Prosecutor’s Office, the Seattle Police Department and the Washington Advisory Committee on Trafficking (WashACT) have worked to develop a comprehensive poster campaign with simple messages to connect with victims of human trafficking. The messages have been translated into Vietnamese, Russian, English, Tagalog, Spanish, Chinese and Korean.
"We hope that this campaign, unique in its direct outreach in multiple, common languages, will be a model for the nation, particularly in our collaborative approach - government entities and NGOs working together to reach victims of human trafficking with the message that they have rights and help is available," said Lacie Morrison, Executive Director of Seattle Against Slavery, a grassroots coalition working to make a slave-free world one city at a time.
SAS will coordinate an effort to blanket businesses and public spaces in an attempt to reach victims of human trafficking. The goal is to help victims transition to a life of freedom and safety. The Polaris Project, one of the largest anti-trafficking organizations in the U.S. and Japan, will staff the toll-free line and connect victims with services.
“One of the biggest barriers to reaching victims of human trafficking is a fear of government,” said Alan Lai of the CISC (Chinese Information & Service Center). “That’s why this partnership between government and non-governmental organizations is so important. We want all human trafficking victims to break this vicious cycle and to come forward to report the crime. We shall support them every step of the way until justice is served.”
“I commend Seattle Against Slavery, the Asian and Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center, WashACT, WARN and other NGOs for all their groundbreaking and continuing efforts to combat human trafficking,” said Kohl-Welles, who sponsored and passed SB 6330, allowing human trafficking posters to be posted at highway rest stops. “It was particularly gratifying that the bill passed unanimously, indicating the Legislature now recognizes the need to address the scourge of trafficking in our state. The anti-trafficking informational posters will help potential and actual trafficking victims to seek help, including young people being coerced into prostitution. I am confident that with the commitment and outstanding work of these NGOs that we will continue to achieve gains in our efforts.”
“This poster campaign goes a long way toward helping us help victims,” McKenna said. “I’m committed to continuing to publicize the services available to victims of human trafficking and continuing to work to support public policy that makes it harder for those who would seek to victimize others in the future.”
“Human trafficking is a modern day form of slavery and we are proud to be part of this campaign to educate and let victims of this ruthless crime know that help is available,” said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of HSI for the Pacific Northwest. “HSI is a committed partner in efforts to rescue victims from a life in the shadows and we stand united with those who seek to end human trafficking in the United States and around the world.”
Conservative estimates place the number of worldwide trafficking victims at more than 27 million, with studies in the US estimating forced labor and sex reaching into the hundreds of thousands.
Seattle Against Slavery is a grassroots coalition working to make a slave-free world one city at a time. Uniting community-based abolition activists, local and national non-government organizations, government agencies, and other coalitions, SAS seeks to foster collaboration in the fight against human trafficking through education, advocacy, and mobilization.
Robert Beiser, Seattle Against Slavery, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.seattleagainstslavery.org
Janelle Guthrie, Attorney General’s Office, email@example.com or 360-586-0725