On Monday January 14, 2020, IANGEL attended San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking’s (SFCACHT) press conference in support of Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The San Francisco City Hall room was packed to overflowing as supporters and members gathered to listen to speakers and the progress of new initiatives throughout the Bay Area.
SFCAHT’s focus is on policy change efforts which will result in greater communication between SF agencies, awareness of human trafficking and increased support for survivors. Speaking to the necessity of collaborative efforts, SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin asserted,
“We do better when we work together.”
Boudin highlighted his office’s 2020 priorities including adding a dedicated trafficking advocate, enhancing collaboration with the Mayor’s Task Force, expanding SF’s sanctuary city policy, substantive case review to better identify victims of trafficking as well as entering into conversations with the Court to create an alternative track for victims of trafficking who are moving through the criminal justice system.
Several speakers echoed Mr. Boudin’s commitment to aiding survivors through victim assistance and a trauma-informed approach. Tatum King, Homeland Security Investigation Special Agent in Charge, announced a newly appointed victim’s assistant to help victims seek benefits, back wages, and navigate immigration issues. And Tania Garcia O’Higgins, the Human Trafficking Outreach Coordinator of Ruby’s Place, spoke about their new 6 person shelter for male-identified victims of human trafficking. The first of its kind, this shelter counters the myth and perception that male-identified persons cannot be trafficked.
Alia Whitney-Johnson of Freedom Forward spoke about their new youth-designed initiative and website, I Am Jasmine Strong, focused on youth power, agency, hope and options/resources online. Only recently launched the report back from site traffic is already sobering. So far the two most common questions asked on the site are:
What should I do if a guy I met online is pressuring me for naked selfies?
What should I do if my friend’s boyfriend is pressuring her to have sex with another man for money?
And the two most common resources searched on the website? Food and self-care. Our work is clearly cut out for us.
Other new developments and initiatives addressed were the Governor’s anti-trafficking agenda, including now mandatory sex trafficking education in California public schools and the importance of the SF Mayor’s 2020 Task Force opening a girl’s crisis center.
The event was inspiring and informative. It left us with a renewed sense of purpose for our work against human trafficking, which will continue throughout the coming year.