Child Trafficking Conference Focuses on Identifying and Assisting Victims

Daryl Hannah and Anthony LaPaglia Speak Out on Trafficking Issues

Sep 14, 2006, 01:00 ET from Public Counsel

    LOS ANGELES, Sept. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Actress Daryl Hannah, Actor
 Anthony LaPaglia, and advocates from eight Southern California non-profits
 gathered to discuss the problem of child trafficking. The Conference,
 entitled "Hiding in Plain Sight: Finding and Protecting Child Victims of
 Trafficking," was designed to increase advocates' ability to identify and
 assist child trafficking victims.
     Kay Buck, Executive Director of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery &
 Trafficking (CAST) noted, "In Southern California, we've only scratched the
 surface of this growing problem. It is critical that advocates and other
 members of the community become more aware of child trafficking so that
 these victims can be identified and rescued and their traffickers can be
 brought to justice."
     Conference Sponsors
     The Conference is sponsored by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles,
 Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking, Children's Law Center of Los
 Angeles, Public Counsel, Free the Slaves, and San Diego Youth & Community
     Anthony LaPaglia
     Actor Anthony LaPaglia, who won a Golden Globe Award for his role as an
 FBI agent in the TV series "Without a Trace," is a strong supporter of the
 anti-trafficking movement. He observed, "I was shocked to learn that human
 trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world." He
 discussed the importance of informing those who are most likely to have
 contact with child trafficking victims and the general public of this
 epidemic to improve efforts to rescue children who are forced into
 prostitution and modern-day slavery.
     Daryl Hannah
     Actress Darryl Hannah expressed her concern for child victims of
 trafficking. Hannah supports the work of policymakers, prosecutors and
 service organizations that are fighting this battle against human
 trafficking on the front lines.
     Kevin Bales
     Kevin Bales, considered the world's leading expert on modern slavery
 and child trafficking, was the Conference's keynote speaker. Bales is the
 President of Free the Slaves and author of "Disposable People: New Slavery
 in the Global Economy," which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He is the
 winner of numerous international humanitarian awards a documentary based on
 his work, "Slavery: A Global Investigation," won the Peabody Award for 2000
 and two Emmy Awards in 2002. He recently edited an Anti-Human Trafficking
 Toolkit for the United Nations, and published, with the Human Rights Center
 at Berkeley, a report on forced labor in the USA.
     Conference Highlights
     Advocates attending the Conference at the Cathedral Plaza downtown
 participated in workshops on a variety of topics including Immigration Laws
 that Affect Trafficking Victims, Federal and State Anti-Trafficking Laws,
 Identifying and Talking to Child Trafficking Victims, Guardianship
 Strategies for Children, Working With Law Enforcement, and Southern
 California Resources for Child Trafficking Victims.
     CAST Executive Director Buck explained, "The organizers and speakers at
 this conference come from agencies that collaborate with law enforcement to
 combat human trafficking and assist victims in a broad range of contexts.
 Community members who attended walked away with a better understanding not
 only how to identify trafficking victims, but also about legal resources,
 support services, and other types of assistance available to child
 trafficking victims."
     About Child Trafficking
     According to US State Department data, it is estimated that 600,000 to
 800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked across international
 borders each year. Approximately 80 percent are women and girls and up to
 50 percent are minors. An estimated 14,000 people are trafficked into the
 United States each year, although again because trafficking is illegal and
 covert, accurate statistics are difficult to obtain. Victims of child
 trafficking are exploited and forced to live as migrant workers, domestic
 servants or prostitutes. Safe housing, health, food, income, and legal
 services are available for these children but they must first be
     The Case of "Liliana"
     At the age of fourteen, "Liliana" was recruited by traffickers in
 Chiapas, Mexico who promised her a job working in a restaurant in Los
 Angeles, so that she could help her family financially and escape from a
 chaotic household in which she was being abused by her brothers. Based on
 what appeared to be a great opportunity, Liliana agreed to come to the
 United States.
     Her traffickers arranged for her to be brought by smugglers from Mexico
 to Los Angeles. When she arrived, the traffickers told her she would first
 have to work as a prostitute to earn enough money to pay back the smugglers
 who brought her here. Liliana was held captive in the house where she was
 forced to perform sex acts against her will and was continuously threatened
 that her family in Mexico would be harmed if she refused to comply or
 attempted to escape.
     After approximately two months at the first location, Liliana and other
 sex-trafficking victims were taken to another location where she continued
 to be forced to work as a prostitute. She remained captive at the second
 location until police arrived and she was transferred to immigration
 authorities. Now sixteen years old, Liliana is one of approximately ten
 sex-trafficking victims who participated in the investigation and
 prosecution of several of her traffickers.
     Now free from her captors, Liliana is slowly gaining a new sense of
 safety. She resides in a foster care group home out of state where she
 receives support services to help her overcome the long-term effects of the
 trauma suffered as a result of her trafficking experience.
     Liliana's experience is a typical scenario of a child trafficking

SOURCE Public Counsel