PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. On Saturday, the Junior League of Portland hosted an event to start a conversation about how human trafficking is happening locally, and how it takes a community to help the people who are must vulnerable.
Hundreds of people gathered in Portland on Saturday morning to talk about how to fight human trafficking.
“It’s something that’s very easy to turn a blind eye to and not pay attention to,” said Junior League of Portland President Gina Roman. “But it’s so important to confront this issue head-on.”
The non-profit organization hosted an awareness day reception where they brought together local businesses, civic groups, and leaders like Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal to learn more about an issue that has consistently been a pervasive problem in Oregon.
“Sex trafficking is one of those issues that’s incredibly complicated, has incredibly impact locally, and is hidden in plain sight,” said Jayapal.
In recent years, Oregon—particularly Portland—has been in the national spotlight for trafficking, especially for cases involving children forced into prostitution. Jayapal said when leadership brings together multiple law enforcement and state agencies, it does make a difference, but more can be done.
“It’s not one organization, it’s not one person, we have to come together as a community to make an impact,” said Roman.
The Junior League has focused on the issue for years, and even produced a documentary about human trafficking. In their first summit on the issue, they brought in community groups like Cupcake Girls to share information.
Open to all, this event‘s goal was to educate the community on human trafficking happening locally and to empower people to work towards change. The League President opened the event with a welcome, which was following by a viewing their documentary called Waiting for the Light.
An invitation to support the League’s 8th Annual Delicates Drive rounded out the reception. The goal of the Delicates Drive is to gather 10,000 new undergarments, including bras, underwear, tank tops, socks and more. They cite the reasoning for the drive being many individuals are required to give up these items as evidence after fleeing from these trafficking environments.