Human Trafficking Outreach Day

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.

4/21/2009

Grassroots blitz involves federal, state, local agencies and hundreds of volunteers to heighten awareness of the growing problem

Carol L. Adams, Ph.D., Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) joins the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Illinois Department of Public Health, Springfield Federation, P.O.R.A. (Positive Options, Referrals and Alternatives) and more than 100 partners statewide in announcing the statewide Illinois Rescue and Restore Human Trafficking Outreach Day. The event on Saturday April 25 is the fourth of its kind held in Illinois and is designed to raise awareness about human trafficking and help rescue victims of this growing crime.

The Illinois Rescue and Restore campaign launched in 2005 by IDHS and HHS is a coalition comprised of local agencies, state agencies, law enforcement and the faith community to raise awareness of the problem and help victims. Illinois is the first state to form this unique and cutting edge collaboration with HHS, and is seen as a model for other states.

"Human trafficking is not only illegal, but it is a serious violation of a person's rights as a human being," said Secretary Adams. "We want to make sure that victims of this crime know that there is help out there for them. We also want to make sure that anyone who is suspicious of trafficking activities 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, 888-373-7888, and encourage the public to rescue and restore victims of human trafficking on Saturday, April 25, 2009.

"There are signs we can all look for that may alert us that someone is a victim of human trafficking. Those signs include bruises or other evidence of battering, fear or depression, the inability to move or leave a job, and the appearance of being controlled. Through the Rescue and Restore Campaign we can continue to bring awareness to the problem of human trafficking and find ways we can help victims in our communities," said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Illinois Department of Public Health Director.

Human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world today. This is a hidden problem in many communities across the state. The U.S. government estimates that 14,000-17,500 people are trafficked into the United States annually. Victims are trafficked across international borders from such regions as Southeast Asia, Latin America, the Former Soviet Union and Africa to work in labor and sex trades.

As part of Outreach Day, posters will be displayed across the state through partners that also include the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois State Police, and many local community and faith-based social service agencies. Volunteers will target locations where a potential victim of trafficking or a first responder might see the message such as in highway rest stops, libraries, gas stations, health clinics, restaurants, laundromats, and retail stores. Various types of posters have been produced in English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese.

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.

The toll-free Trafficking Information and Referral Hotline, 1.888.373.7888, 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. Hotline calls are referred to local service agencies equipped to provide initial services to trafficking victims.

In 2005, The Trafficking of Persons and Involuntary Servitude Act was signed into law, making it easier to prosecute human trafficking offenders and to assist victims.

The legislation established penalties for the offenses of involuntary servitude, sexual servitude of a minor and trafficking of persons for forced labor and services. Forcing a person into servitude ranges from a Class 4 to a Class X felony if kidnapping or injury is involved. The law also allows for restitution to pay back a victim for forced labor. Further, the law allows Illinois Department of Human Services to provide emergency victim services.

To learn more about the campaign visit www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking for information and resources or the Illinois Rescue and Restore website (www.dhs.state.il.us/projectsinitiatives/trafficking).