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H.E.A.T. Watch – Stop Human Exploitation and Trafficking

Alameda County H.E.A.T. Watch Tip Line:
Office of the District Attorney, Alameda County
Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney

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What is human trafficking?

There are two primary forms of human trafficking: sex and labor.

The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines “Severe Forms of Trafficking in Persons” as:

Sex Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person forced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years*.

* For example, in the state of California, a minor cannot consent to sex with an adult.

Labor Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.

Who does it impact and where?

  • Author and economist Kevin Bales estimates there are about 27 million slaves in the world today. Some estimates are as high as 35 million (roughly the population of Canada).
  • The International Labour Organization estimates that 3 out of every 1,000 people worldwide are trapped in jobs into which they were coerced or deceived, and which they cannot leave.
  • The US Department of State estimates that annually, 600,000 to 800,000 victims are trafficked across international borders worldwide, millions more are trafficked within their own countries, and 14,500 to 17,500 are trafficked to the US.
  • Cases of human trafficking have been reported in every single US state.
  • In the US, is estimated that every year a minimum of 100,000 youth are at risk for trafficking.

In what way are people trafficked?

Primarily, we see people trafficked for the purposes of:

  • Commercial sex (i.e. prostitution, stripping, pornography and illicit massage parlors)
  • Domestic servitude
  • Manual labor and construction
  • Migrant agricultural work
  • Janitorial services

Why are people trafficked?

Many factors put people at risk for trafficking, including but not limited to:

  • Fear (such as fear of law enforcement, of deportation)
  • Coercion
  • Extreme poverty
  • Corruption
  • Childhood trauma or abuse
  • Childhood endangerment
  • Absenteeism
  • Drug abuse
  • Lack of stability in the home life (including runaways and children who have been placed in foster care)

These factors can also contribute to other social and emotional issues, such as low self-esteem, dependency, and mistrust. The breadth of these factors show that, while some people have a higher risk of being trafficked, everyone is vulnerable.

How is H.E.A.T. Watch making a difference?
How can I make a difference?

H.E.A.T. Watch works closely with other organizations to ensure that people are properly trained in identifying the signs of a trafficked victim and ensure that victims of trafficking are given all the resources and support that they need. In short, we offer wrap-around services of emotional, physical and legal support for the victims of human trafficking. Read more about our approach.

If you want to get involved in the fight against human trafficking, remember that no action is too small.
We recommend:

  • Subscribing to our mailing list to stay up to date on trainings, news, and events.
  • Downloading and using our MAP1193 web app
  • Hosting a HEAT Watch informational training in your community
  • Continue the discussion with us on Twitter and Facebook.