Human trafficking has been - and will continue to be - a hot-button issue in Seattle, King County and throughout the state. Battling Backpage.com and its alleged involvement in aiding and abetting child prostitution has been a cornerstone of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's first term. Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles has similarly championed the cause at the state legislative level. And even though Rob McKenna and the Attorney General's Office were eventually forced to drop the state's defense of a law passed in 2012 that aimed to hold Backpage.com and similar websites accountable for indirectly disseminating child sex ads, chances are it won't be the last we hear of it.
On that note, today has been proclaimed "Human Trafficking Awareness Day" in Seattle - as noted in a blog post by City Councilmember and Mayoral hopeful Tim Burgess. And this morning at 10 a.m. King County Executive Dow Constantine, Sheriff John Urquhart, Councilmember Reagan Dunn and others were scheduled to announce a new awareness campaign aimed at battling human trafficking.
Burgess discusses human trafficking and Seattle's proclamation on his blog:
We often think of human trafficking as a problem on the other side of the world. I certainly encountered this persistent injustice when I worked overseas as a poverty relief worker years ago. But we must acknowledge the painful reality that human trafficking occurs here, too.
This issue came home for me when a 2008 report landed on my desk detailing the lives of commercially sexually exploited children in King County, some as young as 13. Trapped in a cycle of violence and exploitation by predator pimps and johns, these children need help. With the assistance of many private individuals and organizations, we were able to fund a residential recovery program for some of these youth. That remains one of my proudest moments on the Council.
The City, the County, the Port, the State and our local US Attorney's Office have all taken strong stands to push forward the fight against human trafficking of any form.
And for anyone interested, here's the official proclamation issued for Human Trafficking Awareness Day: