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Human trafficking on the rise in California, report says

According to a report by Attorney General Kamala Harris, human trafficking for sex and forced labor is on the rise.
November 9, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Daron Lamar Whitworth, a 42-year-old family counselor, has been charged with human trafficking counts, for allegedly forcing a 15-year-old girl into prostitution and selling her for sex on the internet in San Bernardino County.

According to a new report released by Attorney General Kamala Harris, sex and forced labor is a growing problem with nearly 1,800 human trafficking arrests in California over a two-year period.

"They're just kind of expanding their business model, understanding that if they get into trafficking human beings, it's going to be lower risk, higher profit," said California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

According to the report, the problem is only getting worse.

"It's underground, it's behind closed doors," said San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos. "Now it's going after our children, our most vulnerable victims, from as early as-4 years-old, I've heard."

According to the Attorney General's office, even though sex trafficking may get more press, labor trafficking is 3 1/2 times as prevalent.

"I had bruises on my face, on my head, and if I ever leave, where am I going to go?," said Ima Matul, a human trafficking victim. "I don't have any money because she never paid me, I don't have any family here."

Ima Matul is a survivor of labor trafficking. She was brought to the United States when she was 17-years-old with empty promises of a paying nanny job.

Once she arrived, her passport was taken from her and was so physically and verbally abused, she was scared to leave. Matul was forced to do housework 18 hours a day.

Eventually, she says, the nanny next door helped her escape.

Now, she has a message for other victims.

"Don't be afraid to come out, because I was afraid, I was afraid that nobody out there could help me," said Matul. "I didn't know, I was afraid, so if you are still in that situation, don't be afraid. There's still hope for your life."


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