Last year, 18 victims of human trafficking called a hotline at the Monterey County Rape Crisis center looking for help. The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office says this represents just a fraction of the problem in the county. So they’re trying out a new way to find these victims.
Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. It can include sex workers and people forced to work against their will.
About four years ago, the state began requiring certain business like bus stations, urgent care centers and farm labor contractors to post the national hotline for reporting human trafficking. The law was updated this year to include hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts.
Monterey County Assistant District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni says she never sees the hotline in these types of business around the county.
“No one is doing it and no one has enforced it and it’s our desire to enforce it at this point. We’ve come to realize that it hasn’t been happening. And so as an enforcement issue for compliance with the law, we’re taking that on,” Pacioni says.
Next week, the D.A.’s office will begin notifying businesses that need to comply with the law and give them posters with the telephone hotline. The poster includes the information in three languages: English, Spanish and Tagalog.
The locally produced black and yellow posters also include the telephone hotline to the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center. Clare Mounteer is Executive Director.
“We believe that this poster will help educate the community. It may also be a deterrent for traffickers, if they know that this county is going to come after them, they’re less likely to perhaps apply their trade,” says Mounteer.
If businesses don’t hang the poster or post the hotline number, they could be fined.
In about a month, the D.A.’s office will also launch a new website about human trafficking. Called Map 1193, named after the state law, it will allow people to report businesses that aren’t posting the notice.