Crime against basic human rights

Hope Francis is a retiree who lives in Folsom and volunteers with California Against Slavery

In SN&R’s September 13 news story (“Yielding to traffic” by Raheem F. Hosseini), the writer presented the opposition’s views for Proposition 35. Here’s what he didn’t tell you: In California, vulnerable women and young girls are held against their will and, in fear for their lives, forced to sell their bodies. Often as young as 12, victims are sexually exploited for the financial gain of human traffickers.

Proposition 35 is about stopping what the FBI, the U.S. Department of State and law-enforcement organizations recognize as a growing problem of domestic sex trafficking—essentially modern-day slavery—of children. Human trafficking is real and all around us. It is a criminal business that profits from enslaving people, typically the most innocent and vulnerable, for sexual servitude and forced labor.

However, much of the public is unaware of the realities of this crime; some do not believe it exists.

The FBI has designated three cities in California—Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego—as among the top 10 child sex-trafficking cities in the nation, but children are trafficked wherever there are customers. A recent national study by Shared Hope International and the American Center for Law and Justice gave California an “F” grade for its weak laws dealing with child sex trafficking. Even local gangs are getting involved, because profits from selling children are high and risks are low compared to selling guns or drugs.

Currently, the penalty in California for selling a minor for sex is four to eight years in prison and a $100,000 fine. By increasing the penalties to 15 years to life and between $500,000 and $1.5 million in fines, Prop. 35 will result in a stronger and more effective law that fits the severity of the crime and deters the traffickers.

And Prop. 35 will protect victims, ensure that they can speak out and receive justice in the courtroom, and get more of their abusers off the streets and behind bars.

Many girls who are rescued have no home, family or services to support them. Prop. 35 fines will fund the services that are desperately needed to help victims overcome trauma and put their lives back together.

Human trafficking is a crime against the most basic human rights. It should concern every Californian. Prop. 35 is endorsed by law enforcement and child-protection organizations throughout California, and, as citizens, we should take a stand against this brutal crime by voting yes on Prop. 35.