When our survivor advocate community members talk to fellow San Diegans about what a huge problem human trafficking is in our area, the response they receive is sometimes, “Oh yeah, with being so close to the border and all.” Although international human trafficking is very much a reality, we must not forget that sexual exploitation often happens within the boundaries of our borders.
Perhaps one of the most important issues to be aware of this Human Trafficking Awareness Month is that human trafficking is happening now, in San Diego, to women and children who were born and raised here, as were their abusers. Because of the fictional depictions of human trafficking in film and television that we are often exposed to, our public may be led to believe that all victims of trafficking abuse are kidnapped by force and subsequently encaged or chained, often in foreign countries. The more common scenario — a predator’s long-term coercion and indoctrination, based on targeting a victim’s vulnerabilities, and exploiting them for financial gain while feigning a personal or romantic relationship — is perhaps too close to home for many of us to believe. The more aware our community is of this truth, the more likely we are to correcting the problem, even in our own hometown.
Before we take the United States-Mexico border into consideration, here are a few factors that contribute to SD’s human trafficking epidemic:
San Diego, when compared to cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, is fairly new and newly developed. Although many San Diegans are crusading against it, law enforcement’s crack-down on prostitution in San Diego is pale in comparison to other major cities simply because we are fairly young. San Diego is also much smaller than many other major cities . Human traffickers sometimes see smaller metropolitan areas as great location opportunities to fly under the radar of police supervision.
There is a huge gap between the rich and the poor in SD. We are home to 1% communities like La Jolla as well as home to National City, where more than 20% of citizens live below the poverty line. In areas where there is that huge gap, prostitution tends to thrive.
San Diego is A) a convention center city who hosts SD Comic Con, B) home to several major sports teams, and C) we are a port city with several military bases. These are all factors that unfortunately attract sex buyers and sex traffickers. (Gates, Carpenter)
The good news is that Alabaster Jar Project, like many groups in San Diego, is not only fighting to raise awareness about this issue in order to end it, but we are also striving to serve the women who have been affected by it and are seeking help. By offering our unique variety of services to restore, rehabilitate, and empower survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, we are constantly providing more opportunities for them to live sustainable, independent lives. Please stay tuned to this blog and our FaceBook page to learn about our upcoming opportunities to help us in our mission to aid survivors. Thank you for your prayers and support.
written by Amanda Moon Ellevis
Sources cited from:
Gates, J., & Carpenter, A. (2016). The Nature and Extent of Gang Involvement in Sex Trafficking. San Diego: Point Loma Nazarene University; University of San Diego,