Hey, Califonians! Did you know that your very own state has a great group of activists, California Against Slavery (CAS), who are currently engaged in the fight to end human trafficking? Did you know that California, like many places in the United States, has a serious human trafficking problem?
It does, and here is why: Location, location, location. It’s not just a mantra for prime real estate. Multiple port cities, metropolitan areas, and international borders in California provide an optimal environment for slave industry growth. Add to this inadequate laws, and the industry not only grows, but thrives. Currently, convicted criminals might serve between three and five years of time for trafficking an adult, or between four and eight years for the same offense toward a minor. In other words, human trafficking offenses are treated as marginally more serious than a typical Hollywood celebrity’s shenanigans.
The good news is that you can help your state make a change by supporting CAS. A new initiative to toughen state laws against human trafficking, and provide victims with increased assistance and rights, is set to launch Feb. 10, 2010 on the group’s website. California residents can sign this initiative, which proposes up to 15 years in the slammer for sex trafficking minors, in addition to hefty fines that would be redistributed, most appropriately, into care for victims. CAS would also like to see mandatory human trafficking education for law enforcement, among other meaningful changes, which you can read about here.
One million signatures are required by Mar. 31, 2010, to put this initiative on the November state ballot. While only California state residents can sign the petition, non-residents are encouraged to volunteer, donate, and raise awareness the best way we all know how: social media! Follow CAS on Twitter, log onto your Facebook account and become a fan, link this post to your page, or place a CAS flag on your Farmville plot. Kidding about that last one. But you can post a clever status update telling friends exactly why the CAS initiative is on your mind. I’m considering this for my own: “Angela Longerbeam dreams of a brighter day for Californian trafficking victims and encourages her West Coast friends to support the CAS initiative!”
Photo credit: California Against Slavery