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."
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
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.
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, 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.
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
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
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