What is the Northern California Anti-Trafficking Coalition?
We are a group of Shasta County citizens–business people, Moms and Dads, and leaders in various sectors of our community–who have a passion to see Human Trafficking, specifically sex trafficking, become something our community is equipped to respond to in a holistic way.
We mean to educate our community about this issue as well as have intervention systems in place that bring restoration and healing to people involved–both the victim and the perpetrator. We are motivated by the reality that there are people–mostly women and children–who are in terrible situations of suffering and oppression. We aim to bring our community together–each of us playing our part to eradicate sex trafficking in our community
When did the coalition start?
We have been meeting consistently since November of 2013, with an increasing amount of community members and professional agencies coming to the table with their expertise, resources and knowledge to contribute to the holistic solution.
How did it get started?
A group of us who have been involved in making a difference in this area on various levels got together over lunch. We compared notes, shared successes in our individual and collective journeys and decided it was time to work together. The idea was birthed from a place of ownership, each of us care about our town. We had heard stories and seen specific incidents of women being oppressed. It was clear that something needed to be done so we started doing research and making discoveries about how broad and wide the problem is here in Shasta County and to understand what actions were already underway. We began to gather vital members of our community towards the end of seeing a holistic response and campaign put in place.
Our collective aim has always been about how we could inspire others to take action and how we could begin a discussion about trafficking in a way that our community ended up coming to terms with how trafficking works in their own backyard and then what coming together to make a collective difference could look like. We started with the idea that we would be a group that brought key players to the table—the right people and agencies who, when coordinated, would make up the sum total of solution. We have never seen ourselves as “the one’s” who would make ‘the’ difference but more as a group that could inspire, could help facilitate coordinating with others more equipped to handle the intricacies and nuances of this problem. We are trying to create a coordinated and informed community response, with everyone playing their own part. We ultimately see the response as one of many individuals, many agencies, the professional and the laymen working hand in hand to forge a strong net of safety for vulnerable women and children and a solid base of justice and accountability towards anyone seeking to exploit the vulnerable. That Redding, Shasta County would be known as a community that is well versed in how Human Trafficking functions and is coordinated and prepared to handle instances of women and children being caught in the clutches of those who would sell them for sex.
We’ve learned that any community that has prostitutes has people who are being trafficked. They ultimately are one and the same. This a big issue because here in America as most of us have a common understanding, a cultural understanding, of Prostitutes being women who are criminals, who are drug addicts, who are living this poor and wretched life mainly because they don’t know how to live any other life. We’ve discovered and research across our country verifies this is just not an accurate description of prostitution—most prostitutes begin at a very young age—often times 14 yrs. of age- and most, if not all, are not there by their own choosing—it’s usually an outright instance of being forced against their will to give sex for sell and in other times of women being under the influence of powerful, coercing and violent men making it clear to these young girls that there is no other choice for them than to sell their bodies. If you read what Proposition 35 communicates regarding what constitutes Human Trafficking, there is a bottom line there that wherever there has been “force” or “fraud” or “coercion” there you have what the law calls “trafficking.” We’ve got to have our concept of trafficking morphed from something that occurs in “Thailand” to seeing more clearly and realistically that sex for sale in our neighborhoods and towns and cities is exactly where women and children are being “trafficked.” It’s really as simple as that—where you have sex for sale you have human trafficking.
Our vision is to educate our community—to coordinate our professionals (law enforcement, legislators and social service agencies) so that we are prepared for the various levels of resources needed to handle these cases: accountability towards pimps and the men who buy sex and restorative measures and environments in place to house and restore women caught in these cycles—places and people committed to care and who will play a restorative part in walking these women out of the darkness of their oppression and into the light of becoming contributing members of our community—living with dignity, freedom and their identity restored and in tact that they may pursue their God given dreams.
What is the dream for the future of the Anti-Trafficking Coalition?
We want to see Shasta County so well coordinated and educated on how Human Trafficking takes place (sex for sale is our simple description) that the commercial sex industry would have no foothold in our community. We see a community that is aware and educated as well as equipped and prepared to do what it can to make the difference needed. We see a community that is smart about eliminating any demand for commercial sex. If no one is buying sex than the likelihood of people being held against their will to perform sex acts will disappear–if there is no demand then there will more than likely be no supply