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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 18, 2017) – Polaris, in collaboration with Hispanic Communications Network (HCN), launched a national campaign to raise awareness of the sex trafficking that affects young women and girls from Mexico and other Latin American countries, and of the free, confidential assistance provided by the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Entirely in Spanish, the campaign invites the U.S. Latino and Hispanic communities to learn the signs of this crime and join the fight against the networks that exploit thousands of people – many of whom are minors – in an underground sex trafficking economy in the United States.
The new campaign, “Únete a la Solución,” or, “Join the Solution,” is designed to reach a broad national audience across multimedia platforms, including radio PSAs on HCN’s affiliate stations throughout the country, interviews on HCN’s live call-in radio shows, targeted digital and social media strategies, and endorsements by Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez. The messages and materials will feature the stories of survivors of this form of trafficking, like Carmen, a Polaris consultant and key campaign spokesperson.
“I would like to tell victims and survivors: don’t stay silent; the promises of traffickers are as false as they are. You deserve a life full of love, dignity, and respect. I hope that, through this campaign, the public will understand that we are a lifeline for victims, so we should help them – not criticize or criminalize them.
“I had to live through that hell, but thank God, now I have a better life,” said Carmen, who ultimately escaped her exploitation with the help of someone she didn’t know, and is currently a student and public advocate for this issue. “We must be aware and speak up because this could happen to us some day – and then who will be there for us?”
Through this campaign, Polaris seeks to empower the Hispanic population to join the fight against sex trafficking by increasing awareness and understanding of this issue, and encouraging members of the community to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) to get help or report a tip. Based on Polaris’s data, 33% of victims have access to friends and family who could help them at some point during their exploitation.
“These women could be our cousins, friends, sisters – they’re women and girls brought to the U.S. with false promises of a better life, or a better job, or love, but are then forced to sell their bodies in cantinas or bars, places that we ourselves frequent,” Derbez said in one of the campaign videos, which will be circulated nationwide.
Since 2007, when Polaris began operating the National Hotline, the organization has identified over 4,300 victims of sex trafficking with ties to Mexico or Central America. At least 88.4% of these victims are women or girls, and 45% are minors. The Hotline has received reports of 243 cases in cantina-type venues and 351 cases in residential brothels across the U.S. More than 36,000 total cases of human trafficking have been reported nationwide.
“We’ve identified 25 types of human trafficking in the U.S. through operating the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and the sex trafficking of young women and girls from Mexico and other Latin American countries is one of the most prevalent, violent, and networked forms of exploitation we’ve seen,” said Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris. “If we want to identify more victims and stop this brutal crime from recurring, we have to raise awareness of how sex trafficking manifests in our communities, and that help is available through the National Hotline.”
“When communities are equipped to recognize the signs of sex trafficking and know there’s a trusted resource available to them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they can play a critical role in the fight against this crime,” said My Lo Cook, Polaris’s Strategic Initiatives Director, Mexico. “Too often, however, people don’t know that trafficking happens right in their backyards, nor that the National Human Trafficking Hotline exists and can provide free and confidential assistance. This awareness campaign is a first step toward empowering Latino communities that are particularly affected by this form of trafficking with the knowledge and tools to join the solution.”
Along with the multimedia strategies, a key element of this campaign is Polaris’s close collaboration with organizations that serve the Latino community – nationally and in priority cities including Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, and Washington, D.C. Polaris has formed strategic partnerships with relevant groups and actors such as: The Health Initiative of the Americas, League of United Latin American Citizens, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, Interface Children and Family Services, Perla de Esperanza, UNICEF, and individual promotores de salud (volunteer community health workers), among others, to ensure an inclusive campaign that will reach and resonate with the target audience.
Over the last decade, the National Hotline has received more than 2,200 calls concerning sex trafficking with a connection to Mexico or Central America. It has referred more than 1,500 victims to services they needed, and over 400 cases to trusted law enforcement.
In the coming months, Polaris will provide an open invitation for the public to learn about sex trafficking and participate in the campaign through the multimedia materials and interactive resources available on www.laredhispana.org/unetealasolucion. Campaign photos and videos can also be found and downloaded for media use on this website.
Polaris is a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery. Named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., Polaris acts as a catalyst to systemically disrupt the human trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom. By working with government leaders, the world’s leading technology corporations, and local partners, Polaris equips communities to identify, report, and prevent human trafficking. Our comprehensive model puts victims at the center of what we do – helping survivors restore their freedom, preventing more victims, and leveraging data and technology to pursue traffickers wherever they operate. Learn more at www.polarisproject.org.
About Hispanic Communications Network
HCN is the leading producer and distributor of educational and informational media serving US Hispanic communities. As a full-service social marketing company, HCN is uniquely positioned to provide clients cost-effective solutions to produce, distribute and place multimedia campaigns with our unrivaled Spanish-language media affiliate networks. We achieve our clients’ goals by connecting, enriching, and engaging the Hispanic communities we serve.