Artists needed to raise awareness on human trafficking in Nevada County
Sign up for Good Women International’s Poster contest to raise awareness on human trafficking and provide contact information for victims. Register and download the contest guidelines and release form at http://www.goodwomen.org/projects.
Concerned about the atrocities of human trafficking, a small group of Nevada County women founded the nonprofit “Good Women International” in 2013.
They were disturbed by the fact that the pervasive criminal practice has destroyed the lives of countless women, men and children — and, sadly, no town, state or country is spared.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United States is a “source and transit country,” considered to be one of the top destinations for victims of child trafficking and exploitation. Cases have been reported in all 50 states and anyone can be trafficked “regardless of race, class, education, gender, age, or citizenship when forcefully coerced or enticed by false promises.” Due to its proximity to Canada and Mexico, California is among the top five trafficking states in the country.
In the summer of 2014 — thanks to a citizen who reported “something out of the ordinary” — two people were arrested for sex trafficking in Nevada and Placer counties. A case so close to home seemed to underscore the fact that sex trafficking and slave labor is very often hidden from the public eye.
As a result, Good Women International is launching a human trafficking prevention poster campaign, designed to inform the public and save lives. The nonprofit is putting a call out to all Nevada County artists and graphic designers to enter their best ideas and designs.
In 2012, the state of California passed a civil code requiring certain businesses to display a poster to inform about human trafficking and provide contact information for reporting a possible trafficking incident. When enforced, this law has proven to raise awareness and help law enforcement save enslaved individuals, said Joanna Britt, founder of Good Women International. But the problem has been follow through and enforcement.
“This new law is overseen by so many entities that it can get swept under the rug if people aren’t making noise about it,” said Britt. “Locally, we want to start with businesses that are mandated to post the notice. Although this law has been in effect for three years, there is relatively little compliance. This is primarily due to the clog in the government entities that must oversee these postings, which are already over burdened with management of existing laws.”
While notices tend to be posted in airports and some bus stations, a majority of the mandated businesses remain unnoticed for not posting, despite the stiff penalty of $500 for the first offense and $1,000 thereafter.
Mandated businesses include public premises serving alcohol; adult or sexually oriented businesses; primary airports; light rail stations; bus stations; truck stops; emergency rooms with general acute care hospitals; urgent care centers; farm labor contractors; privately operated job recruitment centers; roadside rest areas and establishments that offer massage or bodywork services.
According to a letter released by the California Attorney General in October 2013, a noticeable increase occurred in reports of trafficking activity and rescued victims in states that implemented mandated posting.
In Nevada County, Good Women International’s all-volunteer effort intends to post notices in other high risk establishments, such as hotels and gas stations. Because many other types of legal notices tend to go unnoticed, a major goal for poster contest organizers is to create a captivating image.
“Because our county is art-oriented, we proposed the poster contest to kick off our awareness campaign and include the community in this effort,” said Britt. “This will also help to provide further education on the subject of human trafficking.”
Those interested in entering the poster design contest can sign up to participate and download the contest guidelines, poster template, as well as the artist release form at http://www.goodwomen.org/projects. All submissions must be in by Aug. 30.
All posters will be displayed during a public reception at The Center for the Arts on Sept. 19, when prizes will be awarded for the top three posters chosen.
“The template is already created online and the verbiage is mandated by the state of California,” said Britt.
“The mandated poster provides freedom to embellish the top portion in whatever way attracts attention and represents, in some way, the issue of human trafficking,” she said. “They need to be colorful and eye-catching.”
The winning poster will be duplicated and distributed to Nevada County businesses mandated by the civil code on Oct. 15, as well as during future posting campaigns in surrounding counties. It will also be available free on the Good Women International’s website.
Prior to volunteer “posting day,” volunteers will be trained on how to approach business owners and learn to follow a script that is currently used by Sacramento and Los Angeles law enforcement officials. The Nevada County sheriff and district attorney have been invited to participate in discussions and volunteer training day.
“We do plan to follow up, to see if businesses are posting the information,” said Britt. “And we will report businesses not in compliance.”
Traffickers use fraud, force or coercion to control victims for commercial sex acts or labor against their will.
According to the International Labour Organization, human trafficking is the “number one social injustice of our time.” It is second only to drug trafficking in generated revenue and globally is an estimated $150 billion per year industry. It is affecting an estimated 29 million people worldwide, with numbers growing every year.
“And those are just the people we know about,” said Britt. “Many people we don’t know about are hiding in plain sight. When people aren’t educated on the issue, they don’t know how to recognize the signs. This poster campaign is just part of our campaign to raise awareness.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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