March 29, 2007
Freeing the slaves—in Los Angeles
(Page 4 - Previous Page)"One thing that we've really noticed a big change in -- and that speaks to why outreach is so critical -- Good Samaritans," said Buck, referring to people who notice something that looks awry and report it to CAST. Although many of CAST's cases come through their network of victims and through community-based organizations, as well as law enforcement, as the public has become aware of the problem, they have been helpful, too.
One high school student noticed a neighbor who was only outside when she took out the garbage. She told her mother; they approached the woman and eventually got the person out. Buck advises anyone wanting to help to approach victims slowly and to attempt to build rapport with them before taking action.
"A good sign or indicator [is] when there's mattresses in the back of a place of business," Buck said. "That's not normal." One tip came from a neighbor who saw a woman cutting the grass with scissors -- behind a fence. "If people see a suspicious factory or massage parlor where children may be working in factory-like conditions" or a place where people enter but never leave, they should notify authorities, Garcetti said.
"I was surprised by how helpful the average citizen was to helping slaves," slavery expert Bales said in the documentary "Dreams Die Hard." "This could be the generation that says, 'Enough, we've had 5,000 years of slavery, we're going to bring it to an end.'"
But Flor's story hasn't yet come to an end. Her trafficker served only six months in prison, because she was convicted before the new laws were enacted. Now, Flor said, she's out and looking for Flor again. She went to Flor's mother in Mexico and demanded to know where Flor was, and when Flor went to visit her children, some of the town's men demanded her American address.
Flor still fears her trafficker, but that does not stop her from speaking out and serving on CAST's caucus. She talks to the press, to religious groups and she even was nominated to serve on the state's task force. "I want to tell law enforcement how to recognize victims; I want to tell victims that there's hope for them. I also want to tell my trafficker that it's not true what she said, what she have done to me is not right. Because no human is created to be in slavery. I want to tell her and all traffickers around the world, is not nice because we are created equals, and we have the right to be free."