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June 12, 2007 > Worldwide problem too close to home

Worldwide problem too close to home

Submitted By Jennifer Pham

Hundreds of people flocked to San Francisco City Hall, March 23. Nazly Mohajer, one of eleven city human rights commissioners, hosted a presentation by the non-profit arts and culture organization, Turquoise Bridges, to protest the underground crime of human trafficking.

Bebe Nguyen, Mohajer's student intern and a devoted human rights activist, urged her mentor to put on this event. Bebe, like many Irvington High School seniors, worked on a benchmark project called QUEST, in which students are challenged to pose a question then answer it through research and experience.

"Human trafficking is modern day human slavery," Mohajer declared to her audience.
She described how children and young teenagers in third world countries are exploited into prostitution and forced labor.

Traffickers lure the poor with promises of big money, quick and easy. As a result, many people especially women, are tricked into serving these traffickers. Sometimes impoverished parents make ends meet by actually selling their own children to traffickers. These parents are deceived into thinking their children will lead better lives.

When asked why she planned the event, Mohajer replied, "We need events like these because the public needs to be informed of the crime for their safety and in order for us to prevent it in the future."

All eleven San Francisco human rights commissioners turned out to support Mohajer's and Bebe's mission to inform the community of this horrific, unresolved crime. Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, who also attended the event, voiced his support. "As I've mentioned before, I strongly want to stop this crime of sex slavery."

"Unfortunately, there are illegal traffickings that pretend to be massage parlors. We have spent $1 million dollars on revoking licenses of parlors that continuously break the violation codes. This is not enough though. We need to take affirmative action and spread the knowledge and awareness," Newsom told a crowd of some 6,000 attendees.

The information presented opened the eyes of many to the reality of human trafficking. Much of the civilized world knows little or nothing of the child abuse and suffering caused by the traffickers. It was even more appalling for some to discover that human trafficking also occurs right here in the Bay Area, including San Francisco.

Crowd response was overwhelmingly generous. By night's end, nearly $650,000 was collected. "Most of the parties who attended donated at least $100!" Mohajer said.

All monies collected will be used to support the work of the Persian Arts and Culture Society and the Human Rights Commission for Human Trafficking Awareness.

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