Last Friday, California Attorney General Kamala Harris released her report “The State of Human Trafficking in California 2012.” As a result of California’s first anti-trafficking law (AB 22), Harris convened a Human Trafficking Work Group to update the state’s first report on the issue from 2007.
This year’s report compiles Work Group discussions which occurred over a three-day period in Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as additional research from the California Department of Justice. The report produced some notable data. For instance, from mid-2010 to mid-2012, California identified 1,277 trafficking victims, began 2,552 investigations and put 1,798 individuals under arrest.
Some of the numbers, however, seem to conflict with public perception or competing sources of information.The California task force on trafficking found that 72 percent of victims with an identifiable country of origin came from America, even though the common understanding is that victims predominantly come from foreign countries. Also, while sex trafficking amounted for 56% of victims identified by the task force, other sources cite labor trafficking as 3.5 times more prevalent than sex trafficking on the global level.
What could explain these numerical discrepancies? Is it a simple difference between California and the rest of the world? And what about critics who continually claim that human trafficking numbers are exaggerated or unfounded? Is there any weight to their arguments? Has Harris’s report received any pushback thus far?
Kamala Harris, California Attorney General and author of the report “The State of Human Trafficking in California 2012”