Members of the Pierce County Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution declaring January 2015 to be Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
The measured, passed at the Jan. 13 Council meeting, calls human trafficking a form of modern-day slavery and a crime that violates the most basic human rights, depriving victims of their freedom. It also notes that human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal activity in the world today, affecting as many as 30 million people worldwide including more than two million children who are trafficked for child labor and sexual exploitation.
“The statistics are staggering. We cannot call ourselves a civilized society with a straight face while this victimization is taking place in our own backyard,” said Councilmember Jim McCune, a staunch supporter of anti-trafficking measures. “Until we all recognize what’s happening and try to get involved to stop it, these crimes will continue to grow unchecked. That’s why I’m thankful Tuesday’s resolution will help draw attention to the issue and hopefully lead to fewer victims and stiffer penalties.”
McCune, who represents the 3rd Council District, was vocally joined by all members of the Council including Joyce McDonald, who read R2015-9 aloud.
“As a woman, I find it especially disturbing that young girls are often the ones who are preyed upon most,” said McDonald, who serves the 2nd Council District. “As an elected official, I’m fortunate to be in a position where we can make decisions and pass laws that really make a difference in the fight against this scourge within our counties.”
Some of the signs that an individual may be involved in human trafficking include:
- Having an ID, passport or other documents taken away
- Signs of physical, sexual or emotional abuse
- Signs of physical restraint, confinement or torture
- Being threatened by or being in debt to a boss
- Being under 18 and involved in the commercial sex industry
- Not being free to come and go from a place of work
- Working and not receiving payment
Pierce County supports numerous agencies and groups that are working to raise awareness of this criminal activity and fighting to eradicate human trafficking from the community. To get help or offer help, call the national hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
Jim McCune, Pierce County Council District 3
Joyce McDonald, Pierce County Council District 2
Erich R. Ebel, Pierce County Communications