Human trafficking symposium held at the Museum of Tolerance

Doug Saunders (San Bernardino Sun) | April 25, 2014

LOS ANGELES >> Trafficking of humans for prostitution, a modern-day act of slavery, has greatly increased in the Southland over the years, and many of the victims are children.

On Friday, the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles held a symposium at the Museum of Tolerance — a fitting place to discuss and educate a community on Human Trafficking in California and worldwide.

YWCA spokeswoman Cynthia Heard said Friday the event breaks new ground as it examines the challenges and discusses best practices for battling domestic human sex trafficking.

Speakers came from all over the state to suggest ways to end the slavery of prostitutes and demand change.

“Human trafficking is the fastest growing illegal business in the United States,” said celebrity businesswoman Kathy Ireland. “Unlike drugs, people can be sold over and over.”

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said the way law enforcement looks at prostitutes has started to change.

“This year, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office focused on human trafficking of children in our communities,” she said. “Until now, minors between the age of 12 and 17 who were arrested for sex-related crimes were deemed juvenile delinquents.”

The arrests in the past were processed in juvenile court with little or no resources devoted to address the underlining issues that forced them into prostitution in the first place.

“We believe that minors who engage in sex for pay are victims, not criminals,” she said. “We believe we should help these children and not detain them.”

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