Volunteers tackle human trafficking in Federal Way

A community action team has formed to address human trafficking — which refers to sex slavery and forced labor — in the Federal Way area.

A community action team has formed to address human trafficking — which refers to sex slavery and forced labor — in the Federal Way area.

The team is a partnership between Washington Engage, an anti-human trafficking group, and Women of Vision, a volunteer ministry of World Vision.

To lessen the demand for human trafficking, the new community action team has two primary goals: education and law enforcement support. The team will soon present a proposal to the Federal Way School Board for adding the subject to student curriculum.

Ideally, volunteers would present a workshop titled “Deceptions: Exposing the lures of child sex trafficking and Internet dangers” to health classes in middle and high schools.

The program would run three days, discussing everything from statistics to Internet dangers to techniques for grooming victims to the link between pornography and the demand for prostitution.

Deceptions is intended to help teachers and students understand the scope of the human trafficking problem. Action team co-founder Brenda Oliver said the program is based on “out-of-the-box interaction” rather than lectures. Oliver also wants to start a Not For Sale chapter in Federal Way to promote more activism.

Team co-founder Karen Marion encountered human trafficking while teaching at Todd Beamer High School. Two of her students had worked Pacific Highway as prostitutes. She recalled one local student from Morocco who was a victim of labor trafficking.

“People aren’t aware. Our goal is to try to educate our community,” Marion said at a team meeting Oct. 25.

Another goal for the team is to find more local housing options for victims because the nearest “safe house” is in Burien.

Washington Engage is working to establish similar action teams across the state. This cultivation of a grass-roots network is intended to engage citizens, with the hope of bringing more ideas for eradicating human trafficking at the local levels.

Get involved

To learn about the Federal Way community action team, contact Karen Marion at kmarion@waengage.com or (253) 815-2477. Learn more about Washington Engage at waengage.com. Learn more about Women of Vision at www.worldvision.org.

Washington background

Washington is among the leading states in battling human trafficking.

The state Legislature has been chipping away at human trafficking since 2002, with the creation of a task force and the “Mail Order Bride Act.” In 2003, Washington became the first state to criminalize human trafficking. Since then, a series of laws have addressed restrictions on sex tourism, along with confidentiality and benefits for victims. In 2012, the Legislature will attempt to restrict advertisements for escort services related to underage victims.

Human trafficking is prevalent in Washington because of the state’s ports. The Seattle area ranks among the top in the world for sexual exploitation of minors, according to Genesis Project, an organization dedicated to protecting young women victimized by human trafficking.

Multiple sources cite human trafficking in the top three illegal money-making activities, which include drug smuggling and firearms sales.