Human rights advocate groups celebrated the 4th annual National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness with a 27-block march through downtown Los Angeles.
“People don’t know that human slavery still exits today. Even here in our backyard in Los Angeles, in the United States. It still exists and we need to be proactive in stopping it,” said Aqui Soriano Versoza of the Pilipino Workers Center.
The demonstrators said each block represents the millions victims of modern day slavery throughout the world. The US State Department reports there are 12 million victims worldwide each year. However, some watchdog groups say there can be as many as 27 million cases.
The Pilipino Workers Center who joined the march said many Filipinos are victims.
“In Los Angeles, Filipinos have been the number one group that’s been growing as human trafficking victims and human trafficking survivors. So we’ve been finding a lot of victims who have worked in hotels, who have been brought over here by other agencies to work, but are put in slave like conditions,” explained Versoza.
Former housekeeper Ima Matul from Indonesia said she was unpaid and being physically and verbally abused 10 years ago.
“I still believe, that there’s a victim out there, and I’m doing this to raise awareness,” she said.
Human rights advocates note that within the Filipino community, many cases involve Filipinos victimizing other Filipinos. They are encouraging not just victims to step forward, but for neighbors, and friends to speak out about suspected slavery cases.
The Philippines plays a major role in modern day slavery. According to The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and trafficking the Philippines has the third highest number of human trafficking cases.
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