King County is launching a campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.
The campaign will include ads in six languages that will be posted on 200 Metro buses. The ads are intended to reach both potential victims as well as the general public. The ad campaign, which was donated and will be posted for free on county buses, will cost taxpayers next to nothing, Metropolitan King County Executive Dow Constantine said during a news conference this morning.
Constantine said that victims of human trafficking include those who are employed in the sex industry, and can also include domestic workers and employees of restaurants, agriculture and salon employees.
“This is a form of modern day slavery,” said County Councilmember Reagan Dunn.
In addition to the ads, the county has partnered with other organizations to provide some of the social services that exploited people most need, including access to stable and safe housing, immigration lawyers and other assistance.
Human trafficking, as defined under federal law, includes children involved in the commercial sex trade, adults age 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts and anyone forced into different forms of labor or services against their will or under threat. Because of its abundance of ports, the proximity to an international border and a dependency on agricultural workers, Washington has always been a focal point for human traffickers, said Dunn.
In 2003, Washington state was the first state in the nation to criminalize human trafficking.
The ads urge victims, as well as people who may know or suspect that someone is being victimized, to call 1-888-373-7888 to report a tip or to seek help.