FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 19, 2011
CONTACT:Marielle Sainvilus 312/814.8199 Stacey Solano 217/558.0994
Governor Quinn Proclaims Rescue and Restore Day in Illinois
Grassroots blitz involves federal, state, local agencies and hundreds of volunteers to heighten awareness of the growing problem in Illinois
SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Illinois Rescue and Restore, in partnership with the Center for Public Safety and Justice and the Springfield Community Federation today announced the statewide Illinois Rescue and Restore Human Trafficking Outreach Day. The event on Saturday April 23rd is the sixth of its kind to be held in Illinois and is designed to raise awareness about human trafficking and help rescue victims of this growing crime. Today's press conference highlighted the growing problem here in Illinois and featured a human trafficking awareness training at their April Providers Council forum.
The Illinois Rescue and Restore campaign, launched in 2005 by IDHS and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is a coalition comprised of local agencies, state agencies, law enforcement and the faith community seeking to combat human trafficking in Illinois. Illinois is the first state to form this unique and cutting edge collaboration with HHS, and is seen as a model for other states. Outreach is one of the five statewide goals for the Illinois Rescue and Restore coalition, along with training first responders, prosecuting offenders, coordinating services for victims, and collecting data on human trafficking
"Human trafficking is not only illegal, but it is a serious violation of a person's basic rights as a human being," said Grace Hou, Assistant Secretary, IDHS. "We want to make sure that victims of this crime know that there is help for them. We are also working to fight the stigma and create awareness of this illegal trade so that anyone who is suspicious of trafficking activities will call the hotline and report it."
Hundreds of volunteers from every corner of the state will canvass neighborhoods and hang thousands of posters advertising the national human trafficking hotline and will encourage the public to rescue and restore victims of human trafficking on Saturday, April 23, 2011.
After drug trafficking, human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world today. The U.S. government estimates that approximately 800,000 victims annually are trafficked across international borders worldwide and between 14,500 and 17,500 of those victims are trafficked into the United States annually for purposes of labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Victims are trafficked across international borders from such regions as Southeast Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa to work in labor and sex trades. Some sources even estimate up to 27 million people are in slavery around the world. Locally, the state of Illinois produces the fifth highest volume of calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline. Also, an estimated minimum of 16,000 to 25,000 American women and girls are victims of commercial sexual exploitation in Chicago alone every year. This is a hidden problem in many communities across the state.
Within the past year, Illinois had its first successful human trafficking prosecution and conviction of traffickers in Chicago. Two twin brothers were charged last year with operating a sex trafficking ring that forced young women to perform sex acts for money in the south suburbs. Both pled guilty and were sentenced to four years in prison. Following this case, a Chicago trafficker was convicted after a three day jury trial on felony charges of Involuntary Servitude, Trafficking in Persons for Forced Labor or Services and Pandering. The trafficker faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 3, 2011.
Signs that may indicate a victim of human trafficking:
- Lack identification or travel documents.
- Have little control over his or her schedule.
- Lack concrete short or long term plans.
- Live and work in the same place.
- Show signs of physical assault including: branding, tattooing, broken bones, or other signs of abuse.
- Exhibit submissive or fearful behavior in the presence of others.
- Lack knowledge about a given community or whereabouts.
- Date much older, abusive, or controlling men.
If you or someone you know may suspect this illegal activity, the toll-free 24 Hour National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline, 1.888.3737.888, is designated to provide assistance to organizations and victims of trafficking. The hotline helps organizations and victims of trafficking by providing instant referrals to pre-screened aid organizations in their city. For more information, visit www.dhs.state.il.us/rescueandrestore.