I am a target for human traffickers. I am a 15-year-old girl. Recently, thoughts like these have been plaguing my brain because human trafficking is the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the world today, and California, where I live, leads the way. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego are in the top 13 worst cities in the nation for human trafficking. Prop 35 passing in California on November 6 was critical to confronting this epidemic.
So why is a federal judge from Sacramento causing a traffick jam? In fact, it's a head-on collision, because this judge issued a stay on Prop 35 in support of the trafficker's lawsuits, despite the overwhelming 81 percent majority it passed with.
Many think that human trafficking does not exist where they live or even in this country, but this is not true. According to the Polaris Project, 98 percent of sex trafficking victims are women and girls. Take Withelma Ortiz-Macey, who grew up in crack houses with blood on the walls and in 14 foster homes. When she was 10, she met a man that would later become her trafficker. She was forced to stand on the streets of Oakland in her tiny jean shorts and pink sneakers selling herself. If she didn't bring in $1,000 a night, she would be beaten. She told her story to Glamour Magazine. Withelma is just one of the roughly 200,000 girls estimated to be coaxed into the sex trade each year, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Although Prop 35 will not entirely solve human trafficking and may need to be fine-tuned over time, the positive impact of 35 greatly outweigh them. First, it will increase the penalties for human trafficking by raising sentences and fines. The Prop 35 Initiative Statute states that 70 percent of the money from the fines will be given to non-profit organizations and public agencies that provide services to victims, and the remaining 30 percent will go to law enforcement and prosecution agencies and will be used for rescue operations, human trafficking prevention and witness protection. Next, it requires all people convicted of trafficking to register as a sex offender, and makes them provide their Internet screen names, identities and providers. This is very important because with the increase of trafficking as a result of the Internet, police can use this valuable information to prevent horrible situations in the future. The proposition also requires police officers to have training in human trafficking.
A common argument against 35 and the reason the Sacramento judge has issued a stay is that Prop 35 may violate some civil rights, as it requires sex offenders to tell the police if they change their Internet service account or change or add an Internet identifier, Mercury News reports. But, if anyone violates such serious federal and civil law as taking away a citizen's right by enslaving them into the sex trade, then they forgo their liberties. A sex offender must be monitored to ensure the safety of U.S. citizens, and it is something they should have thought of before they made the horrific choices of their past.
I want to raise awareness of this growing issue that is so destructive to anyone involved in trafficking. California voters, both Democrats and Republicans alike, have agreed that we need this proposition. I urge you to wake up and see that this issue needs attention. Think about your children, siblings, nieces or wife. Imagine that they were one of the 200,000 people suffering in the trade right now in the U.S. Humanity must put a stop to this. Measures must be taken. Write to Sacramento, tell your friends and family, help those who have been stripped of their dignity in the sex trade, and make your life safer.