January is Stalking and Human Trafficking Awareness Month


Gov. Ralph Torres and Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog pose for a photo with community advocates at a proclamation signing yesterday to declare January “Stalking and Human Trafficking Awareness Month.” (Contributed Photo)

Gov. Ralph Torres and Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog declared January “Stalking and Human Trafficking Prevention Awareness Month” during a proclamation signing yesterday on Capital Hill.

The proclamation urges the raising of awareness of these heinous crimes—of exploited labor, sex, or stalking—against humanity, and rallies the community to reach out to victims, show support, and that help is available.

Black cutouts of silhouettes symbolizing the “silent victims among us” lined the walls of the Office of the Governor. The silhouettes will be displayed in hotel lobbies and brought to school as part of outreach efforts this month.

“These are our islands,” Torres said in reading and signing the proclamation. “We will not allow fear in our community.”

Torres told community members and advocates gathered at yesterday’s signing event that “force, fraud, and coercion” should never be allowed, especially in a small island community where “we can really feel it, and see it.”

Lawyer Pamela Brown, reading statements prepared by U.S. Attorney Alicia Limtiaco of Guam—who could not attend the event due to flight issues—said over 800 cases have been prosecuted by federal officials between 2009 and 2014.

All nations have a part to play in keeping the world safe and to build a future where perpetrators are brought to justice and no one denied is their rights, she said.

“It’s about modern slave trading…in all its forms,” said Brown.

Sr. Stella Mangona said a prayer for St. Josephine Bakhita, the saint for victims of human trafficking, who was born in Sudan, kidnapped, and sold and resold as a slave.

According to the proclamation, human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, with nearly 27 million victims of sex slavery. Between 100,000 to 300,000 U.S. children are enslaved in sex trafficking each year. In the U.S., the average age of recruitment into sex slavery is 12 to 14 years old.

Approximately 20 percent of all Internet pornography involves children who are victims of human trafficking.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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