Human Trafficking Leads to ‘Freedom Week’

On Tuesday, Santa Clara County proclaimed the week of Aug. 21-26 as “Freedom Week.” The facts are staggering. Roughly 80 percent of slaves in the world today are women and it is an increasing problem.

In Santa Clara County a group of leaders, including representatives from the District Attorney’s office, Probation Department, Social Services Agency, and community-based organizations (CBOs) are meeting to discuss the problem here, especially looking at sex trafficking of adolescents. The YWCA along with Community Solutions is leading a countywide effort to educate the community on the very real problem of human trafficking and slavery. 

The Social Services Agency estimates that 100 teens in foster care are currently either at-risk or involved in sex trafficking. These kids are often the easiest targets for pimps and human traffickers, because they are living away from home and often run away from their placements. The pimps offer them a place to stay and a new “family.”

Bill Wilson Center is also working with this group, developing new support services for youth trying to leave their sex traffickers. There is much to do be done, and I applaud all those involved in tackling this difficult problem. We cannot let these pimps come into our community and enslave our children.

Most of us are not focusing on the upcoming November elections, but there is one state ballot measure, Proposition 35, that will help us battle sex trafficking. Proposition 35 will:

• Increase prison terms for human traffickers
• Require convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders
• Require all registered sex offenders to disclose their internet accounts
• Require that criminal fines from convicted human traffickers pay for services to help victims

I hope you will join many others and me and vote “Yes” on Proposition 35.

Sparky Harlan, Executive Director/CEO at Bill Wilson Center, is a nationally recognized advocate for youth in foster care and in the juvenile justice system, as well as homeless and runaway youth.

Sparky Harlan, Executive Director/CEO at Bill Wilson Center, is a nationally recognized advocate for youth in foster care and in the juvenile justice system, as well as homeless and runaway youth.


  1. > The facts are staggering. Roughly 80 percent of slaves in the world today are women and it is an increasing problem.


    I’m with you ninety-nine percent.

    Human trafficking is bad because it involves the trafficking of human beings.

    It makes no difference if the trafficking is men or women, or if it is increasing or decreasing.

    The fact that it is taking place is all we need to know to be appalled and oppose it.

    Introducing the all too customary element of gender division implies that the human trafficking might be less bad if only 70 percent of the slaves were women.

    • There will be many measures on the ballot this election that will create a challenge for voters. Thanks for reminding us about this measure.

      I was a collaborator on the “Homeless Youth Forum” lead by CYC Santa Clara Chapter on 8/28 in San Jose which was covered by KTVU and supported by our campaign “Opening Doors 2020.” You missed a great opportunity to bring news of this measure to our community. Happy Labor Day weekend…

  2. The facts are indeed staggering- but not the ones you cite. Like most abolitionists with an agenda to eliminate prostitution, you lie. Proposition 35 is a badly worded, unnecessary piece of legislation that is misleading at best and harmful to prostitutes and real victims of underage sex trafficking at worst.

    Polaris Project reported in 2011 it received 756 phone calls related to ‘potential victims of human trafficking’ nationwide. The US Government reported in it’s investigation of 2,515 possible cases of human trafficking over a two and a half year period that 30% of these were cases of human trafficking, 38% not human trafficking and the remainder were undetermined at the end of the report. That is about 301 cases of human trafficking a year.

    The Ohio State Attorney General’s Office released its report on August 8, 2012 “Domestic Sex Trafficking Cases in Ohio.” The report noted that the major buyers of sex from victims of ‘sex trafficking’ were law enforcement officers.

    Earlier this month, San Diego Police officer Daniel Dana was sentenced to probation after he raped a prostitute. The prosecutor did not want to take the case to trial because she was concerned that the jury would not believe a prostitute had been raped. In 2009, San Diego Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Sadler received a two year sentence for raping a prostitute, after telling the judge “I am a man- she was a prostitute- I wanted sex..”

    The majority of prostitutes are adult and consent. There are already laws which should be enforced to protect the underage and those who are forced. Prop 35 does not address the fact that the majority of victims of human trafficking are trafficked into domestic servitude, agriculture, garment manufacturing etc. Where is the crusade to “end the demand’ for domestic servitude or garment manufacturing?

    California has over 8,000 reported rapes a year. The cops apprehend about 23% of alleged rapists. Prop 35 shows it is more important to you that cops arrest our non violent, non abusive clients, family members, friends and employers and send these people to prison for decades because we give them some of our earnings.

    When cops get away with raping prostitutes- and rapists get away with rape because there are insufficient resources to test the more than 400,000 to 500,000 rape kits in police evidence lockers nationwide, how can you justify demanding new laws that turn our clients and family members into convicted felons and lock them away for many years?

    The US Government reports there are over 12 MILLION incidents of intimate partner violence and over 1 MILLION incidents of intimate partner rape each year. Cops don’t go looking for criminals unless the VICTIM reports a crime against them.

    What about ‘the children’? According to the US Government, 90% of the cases involving sexual exploitation of minors involve someone whom the child knows and trusts- like priests, preachers, teachers, boy scout leaders, parents, coaches and law enforcement agents, none of whom pay for the sexual services of their victims. How about we send to prison for many years those who are convicted of sexually molesting children- including their own? Predatory men like California police officer John Eric Freeman- who was convicted of molesting his own daughter throughout her childhood- are given minimal sentences. Officer Freeman received a three year sentence for his crime.

    Instead you want to incarcerate for decades non violent, non abusive people for whom there is no reported crime or complaint against. A child has a 90% greater risk of being sexually exploited at the hands of his/her local police officer or teacher than he or she does of becoming a victim of sex trafficking. Children who are ‘rescued’ are actually arrested. The government reports that in 2008, over 17,000 incarcerated juveniles were raped, most by prison staff.

    Stop conflating sex work with sex trafficking and allow us to turn in those who abuse us when and if abuse occurs. The cops will no longer be able to use the possession of condoms as evidence of prostitution- a practice which the prosecutors say must be allowed so they have leverage to coerce a ‘suspected prostitute’ to testify against her ‘pimp.’

    This puts the prostitute at risk of catching or spreading sexually transmitted diseases, and endangers the rest of society. The recent UN AIDS conference in Washington DC recommended that prostitution be decriminalized so that this evil practice of confiscating condoms stops.

    Human trafficking is already a federal offense. Violence, rape and coercing anyone into any type of labor are already crimes. Why don’t police go door to door and search homes for victims of domestic slavery? Round up day laborers and force them to testify against their employers? It isn’t done because apparently THOSE victims and domestic violence and rape victims don’t matter to ypu. You tell the public that “no woman would choose to become a prostitute, therefore all prostitutes must be victims of traffickers (like our husbands, boyfriends, employers and others with whom we interact)”  You see no need to ask us if we were trafficked!  What a bigoted, condescending, patronizing notion! Our brains do not fall out from between our legs when we spread them for money! Vote ‘NO’ on Prop 35!

    • Hi NJA,
      I find your comments interesting but I am puzzled by all your factoids arguing against prop 35.
      From what I understand, prop 35 has the following initiatives:
      * Increase prison terms for human traffickers.
      * Require convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders.
      * Require all registered sex offenders to disclose their internet accounts.
      * Require criminal fines from convicted human traffickers to pay for services to help victims.
      * Mandate law enforcement training on human trafficking.

      Please help me understand, for I really don’t see anything in these lines that would seem to further criminalize illegal prostitution unless you are a pimp/trafficker.

      I firmly believe prostitutes should be free to exercise their profession with dignity if it is their choice. However, from what I have read and heard from victims, it is rarely a profession that an individual is initiated in by free choice, but rather, by coercion and threat of violence. As such they should be treated as victims and not as criminals, while cracking down on the person or group arranging the transactions.

      If we can protect the boys and girls that are most at risk through this proposition (which I think is weak, but it’s a start), why not do it?

      Prop 35 may be imperfect, but at least it begins to address the problem of children being exploited.

      I will vote YES

      • Exactly how many prostitutes have you met and spoken with? As an activist for 30 years, I have met and personally know thousands of prostitutes from around the world. And no, I am not a pimp or trafficker. I am a retired sex worker and former LAPD traffic cop where I witnessed so much corruption it made me realize I had to speak out. Believe me, being a prostitute was the best job I ever had, and it was also far more honest than working for the LAPD.

        As for it not being a choice, “from what you have read and heard” you have been very much misled by a group of people with an ideological agenda which has NOTHING to do with protecting ANYONE.

        The majority of prostitutes are adults- and have as much ability to choose this profession as any other adult female does to choose any other type of employment. How many women CHOOSE to clean up the urine, feces and vomit of the hotel/ motel guests? Does that mean we ought to punish those who find those women employment in such jobs, if those women were NOT trafficked into domestic servitude- even though domestic servitude IS the major destination for victims of human trafficking around the world.

        Why doesn’t this proposition have ANY references to THOSE victims, and only punishes ‘pimps’- who may in fact be our family members, landlord, bank, grocery store etc. because the current laws define pimping as ANYONE who lives off the earnings of a prostitute in full or in part. When I left the LAPD and became a prostitute, I continued to make my car payment to the LAPD Credit Union, and I often pointed out that under the law, whenever they took my money (they did until my car was paid for), they were, under the law, my pimp.

        Cops use the laws to threaten to arrest anyone with whom we have a relationship and to whom we may give money or purchase presents etc. under the pimping laws if we don’t provide them with sex, money and information.

        Despite the over 12 million incidents of intimate partner violence each year, are the majority of wives victims of domestic violence? Despite the over 80,000 reported rapes each year, are the majority of adult women who have non commercial sex with men victims of rape?

        The idea that we are incapable of making choices to engage in sexual activity for MONEY that we could legally do if it were for free or if we performed the same activity in front of a camera, is condescending and patronizing. I suggest you read the many many articles and blogs BY sex workers and let US speak for ourselves rather than listen to those abolitionist feminists and religious conservatives with an agenda.

        Why don’t you read the US Government’s report “Sexual Assault of Young Children as reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident and Offender Characteristics”? More predators are like Former Alameda CA Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Bareno, who in 2011, was accused of molesting three children and who plead guilty to three counts of child endangerment, and sentenced to ONE year in jail and five years probation. His victims were under 10 years of age.

        Like NYPD Detective Wayne Taylor- who pimped out a 13-year-old girl and forced her to dance naked at parties and have sex with “as many as eight or nine men” in a single night. The girl says Det. Wayne Taylor “bought” her for $500 and threatened to arrest her for prostitution if she didn’t follow his orders. He was known by the NYPD to have had improper relationships with prostitutes, including prostitutes who were minors. Indeed, prior to the events at issue in this complaint, Taylor was disciplined by the NYPD in relation to having had an improper relationship with an under-age prostitute.”

        And then there is San Diego Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas John Sadler, who assaulted and attempted to rape a prostitute, telling her “Bitch- I can do anything I   f..king want…” as he forced her legs apart and touched her vaginal area. Sadler had a history of assaulting women in the same way dating back to 2001, according to the prosecutor at his trial. Sadler had originally faced five felony charges and was convicted of one…  the outcome of the case means Sadler wasn’t found to be a sex offender. He was sentenced to two years.

        When we are victims of abuse, why can’t we call the cops and file a report just like all the other victims of crimes must do before the cops will investigate? If the victim is a child, that is a different story. If the victim is a 16 or 17 year year old, they are not a child. Then they can report crimes against them JUST LIKE THE VICTIMS OF THE cops who continue to have sex with minors day after day- the cops usually get a slap on the hand.

        If we decriminalized consenting adult commercial sex and ALL non violent, non abusive, non coercive ancillary activity- so that we were treated like adults, we promise to report ANYONE, including cops, who abuse us. We’d like to see those cops get twice the punishment any other perpetrator would get for the same crime- that might deter them from raping and robbing us.

        According to the December 23, 1995 NY Times, “In the summer of 1993, 26 Newark police officers were accused of raping, robbing and beating prostitutes. Although the victims identified the officers through photo line-ups, city records show that the department never followed through on the allegations and has done nothing to discipline the officers.”

        It’s these men you want to put in charge of enforcing Prop 35… men who can’t keep their dicks in their pants even when it involves little children!  Prop 35 is not just imperfect- it is downright dangerous to those people whom you claim to want to protect! Do some research! visit and read some of the horror stories I’ve compiled about cops who love people like you (and Lou Scannon) because your ignorance gives them the power to abuse us.

    • > Stop conflating sex work with sex trafficking and allow us to turn in those who abuse us when and if abuse occurs.

      Prostitution is and ought to be illegal.  Calling it “sex work” is just sophistry.

      > This puts the prostitute at risk of catching or spreading sexually transmitted diseases, and endangers the rest of society.

      Well, DUH!

      This is one of the main reasons why prostitution is and ought to be illegal.

      And no, condoms and antibiotic drugs do not solve the problem of sexual disease transmission in a culture of sexual promiscuity and profligacy.

      The other main reason, which the sex sophists don’t get, is that sexual promiscuity and profligacy cheapens social structures and social relationships like—you know, marriage and families—that provide stable social and economic circumstances for children and dependent spouses and elderly.

      A government social worker is NOT a substitute for a loving — or at least a responsible—family.

      I know this may put a damper on your fun, but it’s time for you to grow up and be a responsible member of coherent, stable, supportive, and civil society.

      • Oh you poor delusional man! It is time for YOU to stop thinking you have a right to control the private sex lives of others. If you are a conservative, why doesn’t less government mean less government when it comes to the private consensual behavior of others? If you are a liberal, why doesn’t choice mean choice?

        I don’t want to put a damper on YOUR fun but in a free society, “grown ups” don’t try to impose their moral or social values on everyone else through legislation. They don’t use the government to force others to do with their own lives whatever it is you feel necessary to do with yours.

        Ignorance likes yours is what ought to be illegal. Or perhaps you much prefer the rampant police corruption that these bad laws engender? Perhaps you are or were in law enforcement and like the ability to extort sex workers for a little BJ? Because that’s what these laws do.

        Perhaps you have no problem with corrupting the entire justice system with bad laws which are unenforceable? When you or someone you love is the victim of a real crime and the perpetrator is not convicted or is released from prison because it is discovered that the law enforcement officer lied under oath (testilying) in another case or had sex with a prostitute and gets caught, remember how much you enjoy keeping sex work illegal.

        As a 61 year old very responsible member of society, who has never used drugs, never smoked, don’t drink- not even coffee- with a wonderful husband of 36 years for whom I am now a caregiver since he became disabled, I assure you that I am most undoubtedly FAR more responsible, stable, supportive and civil than you could ever dream of being. Because freedom is for grownups but certainly not for totalitarians of either stripe.

        • > As a 61 year old very responsible member of society, who has never used drugs, never smoked, don’t drink- not even coffee- with a wonderful husband of 36 years for whom I am now a caregiver since he became disabled, I assure you that I am most undoubtedly FAR more responsible, stable, supportive and civil than you could ever dream of being.


          Society needs more people like you.

          Except for the “human trafficking” and “sex worker” part.

      • Just out of curiosity, how much police corruption is acceptable in your coherent, stable, supportive and civil society? Is it okay with you if cops rape/ extort prostitutes? Of if they plant drugs on innocent people? Or if they lie under oath? Or falsify their reports?

        Is it okay if cops hire (pay) men from the community to have sex with ‘suspected prostitutes’ and then testify against them? Or if the cops have sex with a suspected prostitute to make an arrest? How about if cops allow certain ‘pimps’ and madams to operate with impunity as long as they provide the cops with sex and information? Is that okay with you? Because that’s what the current system allows…

        Do you draw the line anywhere? Or are you okay with whatever the cops have to do to make it appear like things are coherent, stable, supportive and civil so people like you can live with your head up your posteriors and not know what really goes on in the world?  Are you at all surprised when massive police corruption surfaces and then we spend millions of dollars on commissions to study the cause of the corruption – which we do over and over and over, every decade or so- but when they make their recommendations to stop police corruption, people like you ignore their conclusions, dismiss their recommendations and life goes on as it always has- just cover up the corruption and pretend it doesn’t exist. Is that what you call a civil society?

        Do you have any idea what your twisted ideology does to idealistic young law enforcement officers who want to make a difference but encounter the rampant corruption bad laws produce and the societal hypocrisy that allows the corruption to fester? Is that what you call being responsible and grown up?

  3. Patrol staffing shortages just caused SJPD to eliminate the Human Trafficking investigator position and reassign the officer to backfill a patrol position. About a year ago the department totally eliminated the Vice Unit which dealt almost exclusively with the human trafficking sex trade brought to our shores by asian and former soviet block Organized Crime. SJPD has reassigned the Metro unit which used to deal with prostitution on the streets to deal with gangs. On August 12 SJPD was forced to cancel all Prostituion Supression Overtime paycars.

    Mayor Reed’s 5 years in office have caused many of the cuts at SJPD that specifically dealt with Human Trafficking. Recently his brand of pension reform has created staffing shortages that have killed the last stopgap measures law enforcement had to help fight this terrible crime.

    Sparky downtown SJ these days is like a scene from a bad movie with all the pimps and hoes openly plying their trade. The motels on North first are beyond words and now there is the M8TRIX Casino…

    This another black eye to San Jose! Mayor Reed is squarely to blame for all of this. You and your supporters need to demand that Reed address this to stop the abuse of women and children!

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