CAMARILLO, Calif.-- July 30th is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. In 2013 the United Nations proclaimed the day to be deemed as a national day of awareness.
Human trafficking is an issue worldwide, but locally a group of moms came together to create awareness in Ventura County where sex trafficking is a major issue. Hundreds of people came together in Camarillo for a peaceful rally against human trafficking.
“My family personally has been touched by human trafficking so just my own story has driven my interest on this topic,” said Heather Brown. “And especially what is going on here locally I just can’t pretend like this isn’t happening, because it is.”
Brown helped organize Thursday's event in Camarillo.
“I am just a concerned Mom who decided to apply to host a rally with a couple of other local mothers,” said Brown.
The rally comes less than a year after The Ventura County Sheriff's department formed a human trafficking task force. And it's already making a difference.
“Interface Children and Family Services has served over 110 victims and over 200 youth that have been trafficked in our community,” said a representative from Interface organization who didn’t want to be identified.
“So when you think of human trafficking you automatically think of people chained up, people having duct tape on their face,” said Kathryn Torres, who is a detective at Ventura County Sheriffs human trafficking task force. “Realistically in our county that is not what we are seeing. We are seeing prostitutes or sex workers at a hotel, juveniles in the commercial sex business. We always want to remind people that a juvenile can’t consent to sex.”
California has one of the highest rates of human trafficking in the country. It's also an issue in Ventura County, largely because of its proximity to highway 101.
“Traffickers know that they need to keep their victims moving and we see individuals being exploited here for a couple of days,” said the representative from Interface.
and then they are moved along the 101.”
Just last week the task force made several arrests at a motel. Investigators say people of all ages can be drawn in.
“The youngest that I know we have come in contact with in Ventura County was 12-years-old but there is no discrimination,” said a representative from Interface. “Traffickers don’t discriminate on age. They will look for key vulnerabilities that will be easy for them to exploit.”
Rally organizers hope people will pay closer attention to what's happening in their neighborhood.