January 10, 2014

Washington, DC - Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo/Redwood City) released the following statement on the designation of January 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day:

“The 13th Amendment made slavery unconstitutional in 1865. But modern day slavery exists today, both in the U.S. and globally. An estimated 30 million people worldwide are in bondage for sex or labor. Between 100,000 and 300,000 minors are sold for sex in our country every single year. These girls and boys as young as 13 years old are sold over and over again which makes sex trafficking one of the most profitable and fastest growing crimes.

“January is Human Trafficking Awareness month; ironically it leads up to one of the biggest days for traffickers: Super Bowl Sunday on February 2. Hundreds of thousands of visitors will descend on New Jersey, many of them not only to watch the game, but to have sex with a minor. Pimps from all over the world will fly and drive in their trafficking victims to feed this cycle.

“All sporting events are destinations for traffickers, but girls and boys are exploited every day. Sex trafficking happens in our communities in plain sight, but most of us don’t recognize it. That’s why it is so important to raise awareness of this horrific crime that entangles our daughters and sons in a prison they don’t know how to escape. We have to stop thinking of prostitution as a victimless crime; these children are traumatized victims who deserve to be alive, safe and given a chance. I know how paralyzing trauma can feel, that’s why we have an obligation to help these victims become survivors. Our country cannot tolerate the sale of human beings. Together we can stamp out this shameful epidemic.”

Congresswoman Speier launched the Zero Tolerance Anti-Trafficking Initiative in San Mateo County in 2011 and has held numerous trainings with law enforcement for hotel and airline workers.