Mayor Harrell joined with the Seattle City Council last week to declare the month of January as “Human Trafficking Awareness Month,” reaffirming this Administration’s commitment to protect and empower survivors of all forms of human trafficking. The proclamation sets forward the City’s intent “to advocate for legislation and protection for survivors, to educate leaders, and to encourage public awareness and action against various forms of human trafficking.”
“Human trafficking can affect anyone, regardless of race, religion, occupation, educational level, culture, or sexual orientation. However, Native Americans, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, immigrants and refugees, and those made vulnerable through socioeconomic barriers, homelessness, and disability are disproportionately affected by trafficking,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold, Public Safety and Human Services Committee Chair. “And both adults and children can be trafficked.”
U.S. law defines human trafficking as the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel a person into commercial sex acts or labor or services against their will. It also includes the commercial sexual exploitation of a minor, which is considered human trafficking regardless of the presence of force, fraud or coercion.
According to the Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF), “when anything of value is exchanged for sex with a person under 18, it constitutes commercial sexual abuse of a minor. DCYF’s Commercially Sexually Exploited Children regional leads and Missing and Exploited Youth (MEY) program support Child Protective Services in investigations of trafficking in minors and the many youth in Child Welfare and Juvenile Rehabilitation facilities who are survivors of abuse and trafficking.”
To learn more about local efforts to disrupt human trafficking and ways to get involved, visit the Seattle Human Services Department’s Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (MODVSA) website. MODVSA works in coordination with the Washington Advisory Committee on Trafficking (WashACT) which is informed by survivors, activists, and representatives from our criminal justice response to help expand the conversation around human trafficking in the City of Seattle.
We encourage you to educate yourself and increase awareness of exploitation and trafficking in your communities and improve systems that provide services for those at risk. Here are a few resources to help you get started:
- Understanding Human Trafficking
- 20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking
- Washington Trafficking Help
- Washington State Office of Crime Victim Advocacy
- King County Human Trafficking website
- HSD’s Crime Survivor Services unit and Crime Victim Advocacy
- Combating Human Trafficking in Native Communities
To report concerns that human trafficking might be taking place, please call
the Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network Victim Assistance Line at 206.245.0782 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888.3737.888.