July 30th marked the 10th annual observance of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. This year’s theme is “reach every victim of trafficking, leave no one behind”. In Sacramento County, we have a starting point to make this a reality. Our 2022 research study examining the prevalence of sex trafficking in Sacramento County estimated that there were 13,079 sex trafficking victims between 2015 and 2020. To visualize that number, imagine that our local baseball field Sutter Health Park is filled with fans, including the grass areas. That would be about the number of people victimized in just a 5-year span in a single county. Our county. This research also found that for every person we are currently identifying, 10 more are not being identified and are potentially being left behind. This is especially true for people who are both sex and labor trafficked, the LGBTQ community, and people who are living in encampments disconnected from mainstream supports.
Through this project, we also saw very clearly other victims of trafficking – the children of people who have been trafficked. In fact, this research didn’t ask questions specifically about children, yet more than half of the study participants discussed their children in the course of responding to interview questions. In many cases, the impact of trafficking affects two generations. Solutions need to reflect this reality. So how do we close the gap? What are the actions that leave no one behind? Our survivor advisory council has made suggestions that will start moving us in the right direction:
- Understand that victims of human trafficking are interacting with systems, people, and providers during their trafficking. Everyone is needed to reach every victim of trafficking.
- Provide flexible funding, state funded guaranteed minimum income programs, and rapid rehousing services to build the resiliency of survivors who may be parenting or reunifying with their children.
- Adopt a public health framework for preventing sex trafficking and serving survivors. Invest the resources necessary to address the known, preventable root causes of trafficking in our communities using community driven solutions. Fund prevention efforts.
- Meaningfully involve survivors in project development, outreach, and services for survivors.
This annual observance day gives us an opportunity to talk about this important issue. Preventing sex trafficking and identifying victims requires sustained attention, resources, and commitment. At CASH, we are committed to reaching victims and survivors and working with the whole family, using survivor led programming, partnership, and action-based awareness raising. Want to learn more? Find the research study and action briefs here. Learn more about CASH’s services here. Are you interested in prevention? Email Sawan here. Let’s take the next step together.