Human trafficking rally sheds light on sex slavery

Scores of people gathered Wednesday morning at Santa Rosa Courthouse Square with one message: human trafficking is real in Sonoma County and it must be stopped.

As part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Sonoma County Human Trafficking Task Force held a rally to not only highlight its member agencies’ collaborative efforts to end trafficking, but also to bring awareness to the underreported issue.

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch, who spoke at the event, said there has been a dramatic increase in the number of cases prosecuted. In 2011 there were 2, in 2012 there were 8 and in 2013 there have been upward of 15. “Bigger numbers means success, but there are still many cases we don’t see.”

“Human trafficking is human slavery – nothing short of it,” Ravitch said. “And the fact we are talking about human slavery in 2014 means we have failed … and we need to succeed.”

According to a report from the office of California’s attorney general, from mid-2010 to mid-2012, California’s nine regional human trafficking task forces identified 1,277 victims, initiated 2,552 investigations and arrested 1,798 individuals. Of those victims whose country of origin was identified, 72 percent are American.

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