New Laws on Human Trafficking

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September 26, 2012
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On September 24, Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills expanding penalties imposed on individuals tried and convicted of human trafficking, as well as another bill requiring some businesses to post hotline numbers for victims of human trafficking and others to report incidents of this human rights abuse. 

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California has a dark history of human trafficking. Beginning in the 1850s and continuing for decades, thousands of Chinese women were brought into California as indentured slaves forced into prostitution in San Francisco, the gold mining regions, and agricultural areas.

Most were women between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five when they were kidnapped, lured, or purchased from impoverished parents.  Some were as young as ten.

Resistance was almost impossible. The young women were in a strange country, in debt, and alone. They spoke little or no English and were treated with disdain by the white majority. They were stigmatized and subject to racist assaults.

Until churches started shelters for these women, it was virtually impossible for them to find safe havens.  Those who dared to help these women faced threats and violence.

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