Human Trafficking Awareness Month
Human trafficking for the purpose of forcing women to engage in sexual acts for monetary gain has become a significant public health problem and human rights issue in Southern California, and more specifically in the City of Los Angeles. The risks associated with women and girls trafficked for the sex trade includes unprotected sex, physical trauma and multiple sex partners often heighten the transmission and spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Non-English speaking women who have been trafficked, sold and forced into prostitution in Los Angeles often lack Spanish language HIV prevention education resources and are not afforded access to preventive medical care. (East Los Angeles Women’s Center, Human Trafficking and HIV Prevention with a Focus on Latinas: Assessment Study (Behavioral Assessment Inc. 2014), p.4.)
Super Bowl has been called the largest human trafficking event in the United States. In relation to HIV, some basic facts include but are not limited to the following:
- The commercial sex industry and especially the human trafficking industry have direct implications on the spread of HIV/AIDS. In these industries, women are many times exploited for profit and many are coerced or even forced into high-risk sexual practices.
- In 2010, UNAIDS reported that less than 50% of sex workers worldwide (estimated to be over 40 million) were covered by HIV prevention programs.
- Many sex workers operate in a stigmatized and hidden economy that further isolates them and limits their access to services and basic human rights, imposing greater risk for HIV infection.
- Trafficked persons are at increased risk of HIV infection because of the limited power they may have in negotiating safe sex, because they are subjected to more repetitive and violent forms of sex.
- Barriers for victims are isolation, confinement, language, false promises, distrust of violence and the like.
- Vulnerable groups include runaways; homeless youth; youth in foster care; survivors of past violence; abuse; foreign nationals with undocumented status; and economically vulnerable people.
- Sex workers are at higher risk of HIV because of multiple sex partners plus the fact that some clients will pay more to have unprotected sex.
- Human trafficking has been reported in every single state in the U.S.
- It is trafficking when anyone who is forced to work or engage in commercial sex against their will.
- Victims of human trafficking may not seek help due to a number of factors, including shame, self-blame or fear.
- Anyone can fall victim to human trafficking, including men.
If you know of anyone who might fall into the afore-mentioned categories, suspect someone may be a victim of human trafficking or just want to learn how you can help your community, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888.373.7888. The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a 24/7, confidential, multilingual hotline. The hotline can be reached by phone; email: email@example.com; text: Polaris’s BeFree Textline: Text HELP to 233733 (BEFREE); or online: www.humantraffickinghotline.org.
Enjoy the Super Bowl festivities but remember those who might be caught in the web of human trafficking. Have the National Human Trafficking Hotline number (888.373.7888) available next to the chips and dip!