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January 22, 2013 > Freedom Summit returns to Fremont

Freedom Summit returns to Fremont

By Robin Shepherd

Human trafficking is the third largest illicit trade following drugs and weapons, but it is growing faster than both of these, and is a growing problem in our own neighborhoods. Tri-City residents who want to understand the impact of human trafficking in our region and how they can participate in local anti-trafficking efforts can start by attending Freedom Summit 2013, January 25-26 at the Harbor Light Church campus in Fremont. It is the focus of this event to raise awareness of the issues and help communities to advocate for change through a wide variety of measures from policymaking to consumer choices.

Freedom Summit 2013 will connect attendees with dozens of organizations that are collaborating to end human trafficking and other forms of modern-day slavery in our region. The event is organized by the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition (BAATC), and it offers American Sign Language interpretation (ASL). Keynote Speakers will include Betty Ann Boeving, Executive Director, Bay Area Anti-trafficking Coalition; Justin Dillon, Founder and CEO, Slavery Footprint; Nathan George, Founder, Trade as One; Jaida Im, Founder and Executive Director, Freedom House; Terry Inman, Senior Pastor, Harbor Light Church; Sean Litton, Sr. VP of Field Operations, International Justice Mission; and Bradley Myles, Executive Director and CEO, Polaris Project.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley is particularly concerned about children, who are highly vulnerable to coercion by traffickers. In a two-year period, Alameda County has identified 267 at-risk or involved youth in the commercial sexual exploitation industry. Of this population, 64 percent came from Alameda County, 71 percent were under the age of 18, and 38 percent have victimization history.

"They are all our children to protect, and they can be rescued when someone pays attention and takes action," said O'Malley. "Our Office is committed to ongoing efforts to educate the community, rescue the victims and prosecute the offenders. We've participated in anti-trafficking training, and we are sharing our expertise in order to prevent or eliminate human trafficking in our county. We are proud to be a part of this year's Freedom Summit, an event that brings together hundreds of local advocates determined to fight modern-day slavery in the Bay Area."

Within the District Attorney's Office, the Human Exploitation and Trafficking (H.E.A.T.) Watch Program provides a blueprint for helping victims and holding their traffickers accountable. To date, the Office's H.E.A.T. Unit has prosecuted over 40 percent of the human trafficking cases statewide. H.E.A.T. Watch collaborates with law enforcement and the courts and corrections system, social services and healthcare professionals, schools, elected officials and community members through the Bay Area H.E.A.T. Coalition (BAHC), which offers networking and training opportunities around human trafficking. At the Freedom Summit, a H.E.A.T. Watch representative will teach a course on the use of social media and marketing to empower human trafficking awareness campaigns. Participants will be given actionable examples to bolster their own efforts.

For Terry Inman, building an active response to human trafficking is an act of faith. "I just returned from India, where thousands are trafficked for sexual exploitation," said Inman. "I visited an after-care facility where I learned the stories of dozens of young women who'd been rescued from a life of bondage and was inspired by their songs of freedom and gratitude. But human trafficking cannot be compartmentalized as a problem that only happens somewhere else in the world in order to make it someone else's problem to solve. Human trafficking is here, too, on our own city streets."

Inman is Senior Pastor of Fremont's Harbor Light Church, which supports Project Rescue, the sponsoring organization for the after-care facility he visited. He will share his experiences in India with attendees at the Freedom Summit, which will be hosted by Harbor Light Church for the second time in as many years.

"No one organization can address human trafficking alone," said Inman. "It is a complex problem that requires a collective Bay Area response. Just as Christians and people of other faiths are committed to stand against human trafficking, so, too, are educators and their students, healthcare providers, law enforcement officers, policymakers, civic leaders and everyday citizens."

According to Inman, "Success stories like Project Rescue are the result of collaborative efforts of freedom advocates in India, the U.S. and around the world who are sharing knowledge and resources not only for the rescue of trafficking victims, but for their restoration and skills training so they can begin new lives in freedom. What the Freedom Summit provides is the experience that anyone can be an effective advocate for freedom."

Online Resources:
Freedom Summit 2013: www.freedom-summit.org
Bay Area Anti-trafficking Coalition: www.baatc.org
Alameda County District Attorney's Office H.E.A.T. Watch: www.heat-watch.org.
Harbor Light Church: www.harborlight.com.

Freedom Summit
Friday, Jan 25: 4 p.m.
Saturday, Jan 26: 8 a.m.
Harbor Light Church
4760 Thornton Ave., Fremont
(510) 744-2233
www.freedom-summit.org

Tickets: $95 adults, $50 students (scholarships available)

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