In 2012, California’s state legislature passed SB 1193 with the understanding that one of the key perpetuators of human trafficking is the blatant lack of access to resources by people who are currently being trafficking and for those witnessing trafficking. The law essentially mandates that certain businesses and other establishments must have information about human trafficking resources and the Polaris Project Hotline number (1-888-3737-888) in a clearly visible place, so that whoever may need the information can access it.
I have spoken with several organizations that have vouched for the effectiveness of this bill, when implemented. Notably, there has been an increasing rate of survivors self-reporting to the hotline in the past few years. This is crucial in empowering those who see no way out of a system.
Great idea! The problem? A blatant lack of education (to businesses) and enforcement (by law enforcement).
That is where California’s human trafficking organizations have come in. This week, I connected UC Berkeley students and other members of the Berkeley community with the Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s office, and with our joined people power and expertise, we hit the streets of Oakland, Hayward, Berkeley, Alameda, San Leandro, Fremont, Dublin, and Pleasanton. In teams of two, we informed owners of the mandated establishments (mainly bars, massage parlors, urgent care centers, and hospitals with emergency rooms) about the law and supervised them as they posted it in plain view for their customers and employees.
Business owners were overwhelmingly receptive to the law—they had just never heard about it before and were concerned by the $500 penalty for non-compliance. Yet when we reassured them that we were not citing them, but rather inviting them to join us in the fight against human trafficking, the attitudes changed. Community outreach is imperative to attacking this issue from all sides.
If you are interested in doing outreach in your city (in Alameda County), I will attach the document and map that we worked with and you can add to the effort by visiting the non-visited businesses with the poster (available for download here).
Furthermore, if you live in a county outside of Alameda, and are interested in the joining the effort to spread the knowledge about this law, you can use this amazing resource put out by California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris which outlines how to find mandated businesses in your area.