Human Trafficking Awareness Day

On Thursday January 11, the Office of the Mayor and City of Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) hosted the first Human Trafficking Awareness Day, in honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The co-sponsored event drew more than 60 participants representing government agencies, non-profit service providers, law enforcement, and prosecution. Deputy Mayor Shefali Raganathan provided remarks and re-affirmed Mayor Jenny Durkan’s and her administration’s commitment to anti-trafficking and gender-based violence work.

Tables were filled with individuals who share a commitment to help the men, women and children who are trafficked in the commercial sexual exploitation industry. Lan Pham, Manager of the Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (MODVSA) facilitated a panel discussion featuring members of CEASE—Coordinated Effort Against Sexual Exploitation. During this panel, leaders of many organizations and municipalities explained their roles in the coordinated effort to end human trafficking in innovative and effective ways. Following the panel, Dr. Sutapa Basu and Johnna White—researchers from the University of Washington Women’s Center, presented “Human Trafficking and Supply Chains: Recommendations to Reduce Human Trafficking in Local and Global Supply Chains”.

Human trafficking is estimated to be a $150 billion industry worldwide. The International Labor Organization estimates that 20.9 million people are trafficked globally. Their estimates also show that;
 68% of them are trapped in forced labor.
 26% of them are children.
 55% are women and girls.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, in 2016 an estimated 1 out of 6 endangered runaways were likely child sex trafficking victims. Of those, 86% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran away. In the United States, estimates of the total number of sex trafficked victims, once aggregated from labor trafficked victims, are believed to be in the hundreds of thousands.

Locally, the Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (MODVSA) invests $9 million annually in nearly 50 contracts to agencies providing direct services to those impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault. In 2010, HSD convened its first human trafficking stakeholders meeting to identify gaps, needs, and priorities for the region to address child sex-trafficking. From that initial meeting, other anti-trafficking efforts were hosted throughout the region to bring a collective focus to ending commercial sexual exploitation. Eight years after the initial stakeholders meeting, MODVSA continues to invest funding in agencies providing direct services, and partner with many stakeholders across the city to respond to human trafficking.