Slavery Exist Here
Yes, human trafficking, modern day slavery, happens in our community.
There are an estimated 27 million people being trafficked worldwide. It is estimated that over 100,000 children from within the United States are being trafficked in the U.S. yearly.
Most people think that slavery only occurs in other countries, or if it happens here, it’s only in the metropolitan cities. But human trafficking* exists everywhere where there is a vulnerability. That includes Fresno and the Central Valley.
It is a hidden crime, so unless we know about what human trafficking is and what it looks like, we may never recognize it occurring in our community.
In the past year, 47 survivors have been identified and rescued. We know that there are many more and as awareness builds, more victims will be identified and more rescues made. Fresno Police Department Human Trafficking Task Force, Central Valley Against Human Trafficking, and community organizations and outreaches have been working to identify, rescue, and help victims of trafficking.
Fresno, and thus the surrounding areas, have many factors that make it one of the hubs for human trafficking in California. It is located at the center of the state between other human trafficking hubs- Sacramento, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Fresno has numerous groups that are particularly vulnerable to exploitation such as migrant workers and foster care youth. Traffickers recruit from within group homes using other victims.
In this area there is documentation and/or a high probably that trafficking exists in at least the following forms:
Labor Trafficking in agricultural labor, massage parlors, nail salons, restaurants, and domestic service.
Sex trafficking in forms of pimp controlled trafficking/prostitution, sex trafficking in illicit massage parlors, truck stops, and agricultural sites, and gang controlled trafficking, and trafficking through the internet.
(Polaris Project gives good resources detailing different forms of human trafficking.)
The average age of victim entering sex trafficking is 12-14 and it is believed that most prostituted females are victims of sex trafficking.
Human Trafficking feeds on other issues in the community. It is the exploitation of vulnerability.
However, we also have a growing number of people and groups that are standing up and seeking to create change. They are bringing awareness, seeking creative solutions, and getting to the roots of the issue in our community to address the problems that allow human trafficking to continue.
And those of us in the faith community believe Christ is the God of Justice, who promised that He would not grow weary or discouraged until justice has been established in all of the world (Isaiah 46). He declared that He would bring His freedom to the captives (Ps. 61, Luke 4:18-19). He has already been at work to bring freedom to all those oppressed.
We are at the beginning of this, but we are confident that slavery will cease in the Central Valley.
The federal definition of Human Trafficking is “severe forms of
“The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
Coercion includes threats of physical or psychological harm to children and/or their families. Any child (under the age of 18) engaged in commercial sex is a victim of trafficking.