YWCA Greater Los Angeles Hosts Groundbreaking Symposium Aimed at Combating Domestic Sex Trafficking
California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, Congresswoman Karen Bass and Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey Key Speakers at Museum of Tolerance Event On April 25th, YWCA Greater Los Angeles, in partnership with Southern and Northern California Legislators, Community Service Providers, Corporations and Survivors hosted a groundbreaking Symposium to explore next steps in combating Domestic Human Sex Trafficking. The symposium was an astounding success thanks to partners and friends who joined in the effort. The event took place in the Peltz Theater at the Museum of Tolerance and featured expert panel discussions addressing:
- The Challenges We Face in Combating Domestic Sex Trafficking of Children in California
- Los Angeles, San Diego and Bay Area Domestic Sex Trafficking Prevention/Intervention Models and Best Practices
- Building Multi-System Capacity to Respond to Sex Trafficking
These efforts provided the platform for the discussion and proposal of innovative solutions to eradicate the crime of sex trafficking and rescuing vulnerable women and children from its terrible grasp. “For too long, many have been silent on this issue that is greatly affecting communities across our state. The time is now for all of us to join together to plot out real solutions aimed at ending this abhorrent crime,” said Faye Washington, YWCA Greater Los Angeles President and CEO. “That is why we at YWCA Greater Los Angeles convened this symposium to speak out loudly for those victims whose voices have been silenced by fear and violence.”
The symposium opened with a welcome from Liebe Geft, Director of the Museum of Tolerance, followed by a video message from City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti highlighting the vital importance of the Symposium. Top legislators and government officials who participated in the event included Congresswoman Karen Bass, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Don Knabe, California State Assemblymember Isadore Hall, III, California State Senator Holly Mitchell, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and City of Compton Mayor Aja Brown.
“We need at the very least a county-wide strategic plan that will involve all offices addressing sex trafficking working together to better share information and formulate solutions,” said Mayor Brown speaking on the panel discussing multi-system response to sex trafficking. Also featured as a panelist was Lynn Overmann, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, who offered an expert view on Federal efforts to develop technologically advanced solutions in combating sex trafficking. Ms. Overmann said the office is working on a tool to identify traffickers by pulling phone numbers, phrases and other details form trafficking ads.
California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris gave the keynote address focused on how law enforcement can best address the issue. “When we think about what should be done, our response understandably is we want to protect that child, hug her,” said Attorney General Harris, who as a prosecutor once specialized in child sexual assault cases. “But to really do justice, to make justice a reality, it’s not just about hugging the victims. It’s about prosecuting the offender.”
During the event, one of the nation’s top business moguls and human rights activist, Kathy Ireland, was introduced as the first celebrity Ambassador for the YWCA Greater Los Angeles and she spoke of her passionate support of the YWCA GLA’s effort to combat domestic human sex trafficking as well as her own encounters with girls who were lured into that world during her time as a model.
The symposium concluded with a powerful Call to Action from Ms. Washington who charged those in attendance to go beyond forming task forces to study the issue and move towards systemic change and concrete solutions. “We need to work toward preventing trafficking, prosecuting offenders, protecting survivors and partnering with civil society, state and local government, the private sector, and faith-based organizations to maximize resources and outcomes,” said Washington.
She added, “We have already received a great deal of positive feedback and national news coverage on the symposium and we truly value our partners collaborating with us in our commitment to bringing an end to this horrible crime. It is our hope that all of the information that was shared and the relationships that were formed will result in the passing of legislation, effective programs and funding that will change the lives of victims of human sex trafficking.”