On Tuesday, we met with the San Diego District Attorney Mary Ellen Barrett and the Lawyers’ Club of San Diego (http://www.lawyersclubsandiego.com), and we attended a screening of the documentary “Dreamcatchers” at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego.
On Wednesday, we did a poster outreach with the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition (BSCC) in Mission Beach, and again later with the Junior League of San Diego in North Park. In between, we met with another church organization called Children of the Immaculate Heart that is also active in addressing human trafficking in San Diego.
With the Lawyer’s Club, we reviewed the process of proposing human trafficking bills and turning them into laws, including the current barriers to it. For example, they noted how any bill proposing increased penalties relating jail time for buyers of sex would almost automatically be rejected. While many of these barriers were frustrating, it was important to develop this insight into the ways change is induced within the system. The next day, the Junior League reiterated this by mentioning how changes introduced piece by piece had more success than comprehensive bills. It seems that inefficiency was an accepted sacrifice to achieve any legislative progress.
Regarding the “Dreamcatchers” documentary, the film featured a trafficking survivor named Brenda, who had devoted her life to helping current victims in addition to at-risk young women in Chicago. Throughout the film, I was allured by Brenda’s powerful words and astounding ability to connect with victims. I felt as if I could sense her emotion and empathy in her conversations through the screen. She served as a model of a person in relating to victims and empowering them in the most genuine way.
At the Children of the Immaculate Heart, we were given a presentation discussing future plans for transitional homes for victims of human trafficking victims who are minors. Currently, none exist, and much of the relapse into trafficking is attributed to the fact that these minors have nowhere else to go even after receiving treatment or services through other groups. The church that houses this organization was the first socially conservative group we met with, and I was actually thrilled that they were one of the groups we met with. For one thing, it was inspiring to find out that ideologically diverse groups are able to work together seamlessly to address a common issue. Also, I personally consider it essential to always present myself with opposing viewpoints, as doing so helps me internally understand my own beliefs better regardless of whether they are changed or reaffirmed.
At this point, I feel somewhat emotionally and mentally tired from the intensity and depth of information we’ve had to consider. While some of this comes from the realization of how many barriers to make improvements with these kinds of issues, this is also countered by my increasing understanding of how profound an individual impact can be, and how much difference even small changes can make.