Human trafficking is profit-driven, devious and, like water, it finds its way into the cracks and crevices of civil society. It’s so repellant, we tend to think it’s far away. In reality, it’s much closer than you think.
This profit-driven enterprise robs individuals, many of them girls as young as 13, of their freedom, their rights and their human dignity. Out of our sight, but just next door, human beings are being used over and over – and against their will.
Human trafficking is a $32 billion global business, driven by profit and is one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises worldwide. Here in the Puget Sound, it is estimated that 300-500 girls are exploited every night. Their pimps earn roughly $400,000 per year.
In September 2012 at the Clinton Global Initiative, President Barack Obama asked the U.S. and international community to step up efforts to help more than 20 million victims of human trafficking around the globe. Obama said he was not using the term of “slavery” lightly, noting that it evoked a painful past for America and calling it an “injustice” and an “outrage.” Human trafficking, Obama said, “must be called by its true name: modern slavery.”
Washington state has been a forerunner of policy, legislation and civic engagement with champions such as the King County Council, Seattle City Council, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and former state Rep. Velma Veloria working with pioneering nonprofits and community organizations in our region.
And, as the recent president of the National Association of Attorneys General, Washington’s Rob McKenna launched a standing initiative across all 50 states.
“Washington state lawmakers, Republican and Democrats alike, are national leaders on this important issue,” said McKenna. “This is not a partisan issue – it is a human rights issue for the 21st century.”
This Northwest leadership is creating a huge spinnaker wind for the movement across the U.S. It is accelerating the conversation, the cultural change and the outcry that urges the heart to do something, anything, everything.