Candles in the night
Citizens stand against human trafficking

Standing in the brisk December evening air Thursday night, a small crowd of concerned citizens, including criminal justice students Jessica York and Jeremy Magallanes, lit the darkness surrounding the Roseburg Courthouse in a candlelight vigil to raise awareness about human trafficking.

The event was sponsored by the Zonta Club of Roseburg, led by its president Gail Trimble. Zonta is a global organization dedicated to advancing the status of women.

“We are thinking Oregon is quite a target,” said Gail Trimble, the club’s president, who noted that Seattle is ranked number one and Portland number two in the amounts of incidences of human trafficking in the U.S. Portland recently set up a new human trafficking task force to deal with this crime.

About 30 people, including York and Magallanes, participated in the event. “I came down here to see what it’s all about, to see the community come together to support no  slavery,” said Magallanes.

This was the first event The Zonta Club of Roseburg has hosted. It was a part of the 16 Days of Activism announced by the United Nations.

The 16 Days Campaign was launched in 1991 and occurs annually between November 25 and December 10.  The campaign demands the elimination of all forms of violence against women.

Over 2,000 organizations participate in the 16 Days event from over 154 countries. This year marks the twentieth 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign.

 Trimble says 80 percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls, with potentially 270 million people in modern-day slavery. Some of the victims are as young as 12-years-old when they are entered into prostitution, according to the Polaris Project.

In 46 percent of trafficking cases, the trafficker is known to the victim, according to International Organization for Migration. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says the majority of people involved in the trafficking process are nationals of the country where the trafficking process in occurring. Trimble notes that some traffickers can even be women.

According to Tolerance, Equality, and Awareness Movement traffickers deceptively recruit women into slavery, posting false employment advertising for domestic workers, waitresses and other low-skilled jobs. The majority of the victims are females trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation. “That’s the focus of Zonta International -- to help women,” Trimble stated.

The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.