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California changes approach to fighting prostitution

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Summary of story from CNN, August 9, 2011

In Orange County, California, police have started targeting pimps rather than prostitutes, and treating the prostitutes as victims.

This allows the authorities to seek help for human trafficking victims through Community Service Programs (CPS) or the Salvation Army.

And the CSP also helps victims of forced labor, domestic servitude and servile marriage.

Heidi Thi, who supervises the CSP human trafficking unit, said she’s always surprised at how similar victims’ stories are, even though they’re from different areas or countries.

“I could have somebody who was sold as a child in China and brought here to Orange County to work as a slave in somebody’s house, or I could be talking to a domestic minor who’s been trafficked for sex who was from Northern California and was down here in Orange County – and it’s striking how similar those stories can be, that there was an abusive or neglectful home, or that there was a dream they had that life could be better.”

“And somebody told them, “Yes, life can be better, come with me and I will show you how I can make life better for you.”

“I think with a trafficking survivor, one of the most important things we can do is to give them choices,” she said.

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