HUMBOLDT COUNTY, Calif. (KIEM)- Human trafficking is a large black market crime all over the country. It is prevalent in several areas on the north coast such as Humboldt County, although it is hardly seen. Often the women and young children who have fallen victim to the crime aren’t aware of it.
Pattie Thomas, the chair-person of the Human Trafficking committee at Soroptimist Humboldt Bay says she sees trafficked women on Broadway and Old Town in Eureka. She said it is easy to identify them while many of them have indications like tattoos.
Soroptimist of Humboldt Bay is partnering up with the Salvation Army to create a safe space for human trafficking survivors. The organization recently received a grant that allowed them to create an anti-trafficking sign on the back of a Eureka City Bus with their 24-7 hotline number posted on the back.
“Within a month, five women who were victims to trafficking escaped by calling the number on the back of the transit bus. People are seeing this and it’s making a difference to our community,” said Pattie Thomas, Chairperson of Human Trafficking committee at Soroptimist Humboldt Bay.
According to a survey done by “Empower, Protect, Invest”, an anti-trafficking organization based in Humboldt County, human sex trafficking is substantially the highest form of trafficking in the area. 73% account for sex related trafficking, 20% is labor trafficking and the rest is done by partners and family members.
“We need to bring awareness for victims and individuals who still believe this isn’t happening in Humboldt County. All forms of modern day slavery is in our community and both women and men can fall victim to it. Awareness and rescue methods are crucial,” said Katrina Sims, Awareness Director at Empower, Protect, Invest (EPI).