February 17, 2020
Global Hope 365, with co-host United Nations Association Orange County, presented the first in a new series of speaker events on Friday, February 7, 2020, at St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach. The speakers brought a range of expert professional experiences including perspectives from international travel to Malta and Taiwan, the state of California, and local Orange County perspectives. Each speaker is an expert in the field who has worked with victims of Human Trafficking in a professional capacity and provided insight into the challenges we face as a community in reducing the demand for buying sex and preventing victims. (The full bios of each speaker are included at the end of this blog post.)
Peggy Huang spoke of her nearly thirty years of experience advocating for minors and protecting them from child abuse, first as a volunteer in Taiwan and later as a prosecutor for the state of California. Through her cases, Peggy has seen firsthand how traffickers target vulnerable minors. As a prosecutor in Orange County, Kelcie Wiemann provided the audience the reality of human trafficking dynamics in Orange County including recruitment and manipulation of victims. Christina Mjoica relayed her experience interning with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Malta where asylum seekers are desperate for refugee status and often become victims of human trafficking while they attempt to find gainful employment. “At these types of events, I often get feedback that Orange County citizens are shocked to learn of the prevalence of Human Trafficking in Orange County and also shocked to learn that Child Marriage is legal here in California. Our speakers did a profound service to our community by sharing the reality of what is going on right in our own communities,” said Rima Nashashibi, President and Founder of Global Hope 365.
The speakers provided unique perspectives regarding the challenges and dynamics of Human Trafficking. We observed some common themes that were reiterated throughout all of the presentations.
Human trafficking is a sophisticated crime syndicate. The traffickers use manipulative techniques to recruit new victims and keep the victims under their control.
The legal system is observing “peer recruiting”, in that traffickers manipulate victims into recruiting other victims from their school or peer group.
Human traffickers intentionally seek vulnerable victims. Minors from the foster care system are particularly vulnerable. Traffickers target minors and adult women who do not have a strong family support system and particularly target those in the foster care system.
All socioeconomic classes are vulnerable. Human traffickers rely heavily on social media to recruit new victims.
The demand for purchasing sex is the reason human trafficking exists. “Victims are brought to where there is demand,” said Kelcie Wiemann.
The audience was receptive to Global Hope 365’s campaign to fundraise and launch a Human Trafficking Awareness pilot program for middle schoolers and high schoolers in Orange County. Each speaker working in the field affirmed the use of social media to recruit victims. Kelcie Wiemann relayed experience from within the police force of undercover social media profiles created by undercover detectives being consistently targeted by traffickers. This recruitment technique makes parents especially cautious. “As a member of the community, I appreciated the education we received at the event tonight. I believe our society has an obligation to protect the most vulnerable and also take a closer look at the reasons for the demand for human trafficking,” said Hala Dabboussy, an attendee and resident of Laguna Hills.
“When you are dealing with children, it is not a partisan issue, it is our issue,” said Peggy Huang. At Global Hope 365 we agree. We must continue to raise awareness to save lives. Global Hope 365 will be fundraising to launch a human trafficking awareness training pilot program in Orange County. “It is our goal in 2020 to launch the pilot program and then implement the training in all middle schools and high schools in Orange County,” said Rima.
Laura Oatman is District Director for Congressman Harley Rouda, who represents coastal Orange County from Seal Beach to Laguna Niguel.
Peggy Huang is Deputy Attorney General in the Office of the Attorney General, Criminal Appeals, Trial, and Writs section and a City of Yorba Linda Councilmember. As a trial attorney, Peggy prosecuted individuals who abused and neglected clients in facilities licensed by the California Department of Social Services and represented foster children in juvenile court. She was involved in two bills, signed into law, that protected abused and neglected children As a law student, Peggy interned with the Senate Judiciary Committee and worked on bills in the areas of family law, domestic violence, and child abuse. While living in Taiwan, Peggy volunteered at a shelter rescuing girls from human trafficking.
Kelcie Wiemann is a Deputy District Attorney, Human Exploitation & Trafficking Unit, Orange County District Attorney’s Office. In the Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit, Kelcie specializes in the prosecution of cases involving pimping, pandering, and human trafficking of both adults and minors. Kelcie has presented on the topic of human trafficking to many different audiences and has trained on the topic of the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases to law enforcement and other agencies locally and across the state.
Christina Mojica is a third-year law student at Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law. Christina conducted research for a report on human trafficking in the world that was published and presented to the House of Commons in London, UK in December 2018. She interned at Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Malta for 3 months in 2019. Christina assisted the lead attorney at JRS Malta with providing legal advice to newly arrived asylum seekers in Malta and wrote appeals for people who were rejected refugee status in Malta.