The issue of human trafficking is of particular concern to the PLNU campus, but it is not being discussed by the Californian candidates for governor.
Republican candidate John Cox and Democratic candidate Gavin Newsom both highlight their efforts toward improving poverty, decreasing homelessness and achieving higher education. Human trafficking doesn’t receive the same recognition.
California is a depot for human traffickers because of big cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, according to Kim Berry Jones, the director of External Relations and Development for the Center for Justice and Reconciliation (CJR) at PLNU.
The California Penal Code 236.1 covers laws related to false imprisonment and human trafficking in California. Human trafficking falls under any sexual act by force, fraud or coercion, according to Jones, and, “one [either force, fraud or coercion] has to be present to qualify as trafficking.”
“San Diego was ranked by the FBI as a hotspot of CSEC, which stands for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children,” says Jones. There are 3,000 to 8,000 victims of human trafficking in the San Diego region alone.
“Virtually no community in San Diego remains untouched by sex trafficking. Victims have been identified either living or ‘working’ in every city in San Diego County, and in areas of each that are both wealthy and impoverished,” says human trafficking researchers, Ami Carpenter and Jamie Gates, in their report “Measuring the Extent and Nature of Gang Involvement in Sex Trafficking in the San Diego/Tijuana Border Region.”
“Sex trafficking doesn’t come up on the platform,” says Santa Clara County Chair, Frederick J. Toscano Hernandez. “With issues such as gun control and the booming drug industry, human trafficking isn’t directly addressed in either gubernatorial campaign.”
But Californian politicians are missing the mark by not addressing the issue. “It’s the ugly truth hiding in plain sight,” says Jones.
PLNU is offering scholarships to survivors through the Beauty for Ashes Fund and providing information about human trafficking to middle school and high school students in San Diego through the kNOw MORE! campaign; these efforts aren’t enough.
“There are major needs in legislation and resources [to fight human trafficking],” Jones says.
The PLNU community is taking a stand against human trafficking, and a major part of the university’s efforts includes preventing the social issue.
“Politicians and other policymakers can make a difference by dedicating resources to trafficking awareness and prevention,” says Lindsey Lupo, the Co-Chair of the Department of History and Political Science at PLNU.
“If we can make tweens and teens aware of the issue—particularly about the demand side of seeking sex and/or cheap labor—then we can reduce the need for survivor services,” says Lupo.
Politicians have the ability to address the issue and propose policies that create a movement towards change. “The policies that focus on prevention are going to be more impactful,” Lupo says.