County council renounces human trafficking, vows to help raise awareness

With a unanimous vote Tuesday, members of the Pierce County Council approved Resolution R2014-83 which declares the County to be a “Not in My County” anti-human trafficking area.

The resolution originated with the Coalition Against Trafficking (CAT), a collection of organizations working to protect children and prevent victims of human trafficking by promoting “Not in My City” and “Not in My County” campaigns. The resolution’s sponsor, 4th District Councilmember Connie Ladenburg, says it’s one of those issues many people don’t realize is happening right in their backyards.

It’s frightening how often this happens in Washington,” Ladenburg said. “Victims are often threatened with violence, made to pay off a debt, fraudulently promised a job that does not exist, or even led to believe they are entering a romantic relationship. It’s sickening, and I strongly urge everyone in Pierce County to support laws that crack down on this horrible crime.”

R2014-83 also recognizes the good work being done by the various local anti-trafficking organizations, which have achieved a higher public profile in recent years.

According to CAT’s website, human trafficking is an emerging, complex issue that is widely misunderstood. For example, not all trafficking is sexual in nature. While many women and children are trafficked throughout the world today, some are exploited for forced labor and involuntary domestic servitude. Nearly all victims are held against their will to endure the crime.

Ladenburg notes that Washington State was the first in the nation to make human trafficking a crime; the first law of its kind. Washington now has some of the nation’s most stringent anti-trafficking laws and is continually working to tighten them even further.

To report suspected human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888. For more information on what Pierce County is doing to help those in need, please visit the county’s Community Connections website.

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