Myth of Choice (2018) Graphic Design by John Bollaert, Artwork by Shelley Zentner
Tahoe Activist Artists ran a campaign during the SuperBowl this year in South Lake Tahoe. SuperBowl Weekend is the highest volume time for Human Trafficking in our community. We posted these signs on the back of restroom doors throughout the casinos, sports bars, gas stations, and grocery stores throughout the town. We were sponsored by Tahoe Douglas Rotary Club and Whittel High School Interact Program.
What is human trafficking?
According to The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000:
Sex Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is indu- ced by force, fraud, or coercion. or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; and
Labor Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
Who is at risk?
Anyone can be at risk. Mostly girls, but also boys. Traffickers are expert manipulators, and prey on vulnerable young people. Contrary to what you might assume, it isn’t just vulnerable homeless or addicted people who can be trapped into modern slavery.
One method traffickers use is to recruit attractive young men nicknamed ‘Romeos’ to seduce young girls. This seduction or ‘grooming’ can happen via social media, websites like Craigslist, at sports events, or anywhere teenagers hang out unsupervised. The perpetrators often romance their victims, making them feel like they are entering a relationship, making them feel loved. They make promises and buy expensive gifts.
At some point the money ‘runs out’ and the victim is asked to ‘earn’ the money back, perhaps by stripping or having sex with someone. They are trapped.
What can I do to protect myself, my friends or my children?
Learn the signs and educate yourself about human trafficking.
Some of the signs that a person is being trafficked:
- Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
- Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts
- Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
- Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
- Avoids eye contact
- Appears malnourished
- Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement
- Has few or no personal possessions
- Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
- Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves
- Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
- Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story
PROTECT – PRevention Organized To Educate Children on Trafficking
PROTECT is a human trafficking prevention education program that was developed in 2015 through a coalition of three nonprofits (3Strands Global Foundation, Love Never Fails, and Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives), in partnership with the Office of the Attorney General for the State of California, the California Department of Education, Cisco Systems, and the Institute for Social Research at Sacramento State University. Through this program, teachers and students are learning about red flags, protocols, and ways to prevent exploitation through an online curriculum that provides all classroom materials necessary.
To learn more, visit https://vimeo.com/protectnow/introvideo
3 Strands Global Foundation sponsored legislation which requires California public schools to teach California’s school-age population how to avoid becoming victims of exploitation, help them understand the problem of human exploitation and learn ways to address the problem through service initiatives.
In January 2018, The Human Trafficking Prevention Education and Training Act became law.
“In my 26 years of teaching, this is the first of its kind that I’ve ever encountered as an educator. I feel I’m now more empowered as an educator and a protector of children.”
– Ed M, Teacher, Vallejo City Unified School District
“When we moved from Las Vegas to a sleepy suburb of Sacramento, I never dreamed our family would be directly affected by this heinous crime. However, our 17-year-old was taken from the local grocery store, driven to a motel in the Bay Area, drugged and pimped out through ads on craigslist and repeatedly raped by men looking for sex with underage girls.”
– Vicki Mead, Co-Founder of 3Strands Global Foundation, Mother of a Survivor