FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Lisette Arsuaga 213-365-1906 ext 118.

May 29, 2009: The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) and the Iris Cantor - UCLA Women’s Health Center, held a media briefing entitled, "Impact of the Economic Crisis: Increase in Reports of Human Trafficking in LA County and Globally" at the Covel Commons on campus. 

During the address, CAST's Executive Director, Kay Buck, said the current economic crisis is having a significant impact on people living in poverty around the world. Buck said, "People who are already vulnerable to the tricks of traffickers are more vulnerable because of desperation."

Buck noted that CAST, which provides services that guide survivors of human trafficking toward independence and self-sufficiency, has seen a significant increase in demand for its services since the economic crisis began. Referrals to CAST's shelter have increased 200-percent. The number of clients CAST served in the first three months of 2009 equaled the number served throughout all of 2008. Also, Buck stated that CAST gave out more food certificates last month than are normally given out in a six-month period.

Human trafficking is estimated to be a $9 billion industry. It is currently tied with illegal arms sales as the second largest illegal trade. The majority of CAST's clients have been trafficked into forced labor situations, with 28-percent ensnared in domestic servitude.

Other guest panelists at the event included representatives from the Los Angeles Police Department, State of California Office of Women's Health, the LA County Department of Public Health, and members of CAST's Survivor Advisory Caucus. Local and national media organizations attended.