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Human Trafficking In Washington State

Human trafficking is twenty–first century slavery. While it's often associated with the sex trade in foreign countries, the issue goes far beyond prostitution. Victims right here in Washington state have been found in a variety of businesses such as construction, housekeeping, food service, and agriculture. Victims advocates and law enforcement say it can surface in any industry. In this four–part series, Sara Lerner takes a close look at the problem in our state and Washington's unique role in combating it.

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"Human Trafficking in Washington State" was reported and produced by Sara Lerner and edited by Jim Gates. Funding was provided by the KUOW Program Venture Fund. Contributors include Paul and Laurie Ahern and Puget Sound Energy.

Former Washington State Representative Velma Veloria was instrumental in passing the first bill in the country making human trafficking a crime at the state level. Photo by Lauren Love.

Human Trafficking: Our Legislative History

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Washington took its place at the forefront of the modern anti–slavery fight in 2003 when the state became the first in the nation to criminalize human trafficking on the state level. What forced this problem to be faced head on? Why did it take six years to see the first conviction?

Listen to this story spacer "Trafficking of Persons, Especially Women and Children: USA Routes." Created by The Protection Project.

Human Trafficking: 'A Nightmare I Just Bumped Into...'

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One East African woman explains how she found herself in a Seattle suburb working nearly 100 hours a week with little money, almost no English, and no friends. She explains how her employers enticed her with promises and tricked her into domestic servitude.

Listen to this story spacer Green apples. Photo by Tapir Girl.

Human Trafficking: Farm Labor, Forced Labor?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Farm workers rights advocates say regulations in the agriculture industry leave an open window for human trafficking crimes to slip through. We'll learn how one man found himself in Washington trapped, penniless, in debt, and fearing for his family's safety.

Listen to this story spacer The Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center holds monthly vigils against human trafficking at Seattle's Westlake Center. Photo courtesy IPJC.

Human Trafficking: Activism Explosion

Friday, March 19, 2010

From bake sales to running events to political schmoozing, anti–human trafficking activism is exploding. We'll look at why awareness is rising, who's involved, and whether efforts are being focused in the right areas.

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Posters Target Human Trafficking Victims

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

People who are stuck in forced labor in Washington state might be one step closer to freedom today. Businesses and public spaces will now be flyered with posters directed at human trafficking victims.

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A very special thanks to "Mary" for choosing to go through the difficult process of telling her story in order to reach more human trafficking victims. Thanks to Kathleen Morris, Velma Veloria and the other interviewees who generously shared their time; to Harvey Sloan, Ye–Ting Woo, and the dozens of others who fulfilled requests for time–consuming data and/or simply helped inform the research with personal knowledge; to web producer Carmen Santos; intern Audrey Quinn; TVW/Jan Richardson for tracking down and sharing audio; and music producer Matthew Ellis.