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human trafficking

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

On May 2, hours before the M Street Art Complex opened for ArtHop, Marina Santos gave her students stage directions. Santos is an English teacher at McLane High School. She’s been working with her senior class all year to understand one issue.

“What they're doing tonight is bringing alive the voices of the voiceless,” Santos says. “They're kind of illuminating all sides of those that are human trafficked and those who do the human trafficking.”

On this week’s Valley Edition: Allegations of sexual abuse against a popular valley priest have led to a vocal outpouring of support for him that some argue prevents victims from speaking out. Later, we learn about a student art project that tells the stories of survivors of sex trafficking.

And we talk to the creators of a new graphic comic book that gives readers a picture of Fresno’s redlining history and how that plays out today. We also meet Fresno’s new Poet Laureate Marisol Baca.  

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

Miiko Anderson; Debra Rush

Last week, Fresno Mayor Lee Brand introduced a new initiative aimed at combating a huge problem here in the Valley: Human trafficking. The initiative brings together city government, law enforcement, and aid organizations, many of which have been addressing trafficking for years.

Aleksandra Appleton / The Fresno Bee

A new reporting project from the Fresno Bee seeks to shine a light on a story that is too often in the shadows all around us – human trafficking. The multi-media project "Slaves of the Sex Trade" launched last week, and underscores not only the extent of the problem but the ways in which many young women are lured into a life of modern day slavery, usually beginning online.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

A few weeks ago, the Fresno Police Department busted a sex trafficking ring among the Bulldog Gang—unfortunately, only the latest of many sex trafficking cases uncovered recently in the Valley. This kind of crime is likely what comes to mind when you think of human trafficking—but another kind of trafficking also occurs in the Valley, sometimes in plain sight, and law enforcement officials worry it’s more common than anyone knows.

Magelene Hope Facebook page / Mercy & Memorial Hospitals Bakersfield

A new coffee shop in Bakersfield offers more than just lattes and blended drinks – it also seeks to raise awareness about human trafficking. In fact, many of the people who work at the Rescue Grounds Coffee Company at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital are victims of human trafficking themselves. It’s all part of a project from the Bakersfield non-profit Magdelene Hope. It’s founder Doug Bennett joined us on Valley Edition to talk about how the women the group is helping and the way the community has responded to the new coffee shop. 

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

A local organization has developed a bilingual storybook – or fotonovela, in Spanish – to educate Fresno County residents about human trafficking.

The book is, “something they can take home, use, read, re-read, share it with others, share it with their families,” said Margarita Rocha, executive director of Centro La Familia Advocacy Services, as she introduced the book this morning at the Mexican Consulate in Fresno. “It’s a very powerful tool.”

It’s designed like a comic book, with bright pictures and quote bubbles. But the subject matter is serious. 

Proposition 35: Human Traffickers

Oct 15, 2012

Sharmin Bock has helped convict dozens of child sex traffickers.

“In my 23 years as a prosecutor, I have to say, I have never seen a defendant as manipulative and dangerous as a trafficker,” says Bock.

Bock is an assistant district attorney in Alameda County, and co-author of Proposition 35. The initiative would increase prison time for people convicted of forcing others into commercial sex or labor - and could fine them more than a million dollars. She says Prop 35 would crack down on people who exploit children.   

Segment 1: Human Trafficking - On Monday the US State Department released a report that estimates that up to 100,000 people in the US are victims of human trafficking. They range from those working in forced labor, to women and children trapped in the world of sex trafficking. California is one of the top three states in the nation for human trafficking, according to Cal EMA. Joining us to talk about the extent of this problem in the San Joaquin Valley is Ronna L. Bright, from the group Central Valley Against Human Trafficking and the Central Valley Freedom Coalition.