U.S. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, honored five survivors of human trafficking Friday at his Brea office.
The recognition was to commemorate National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, according to a news release. Royce, whose district includes Diamond Bar and Walnut, presented certificates of recognition to Cody Foute, Angela Guanzon, Shari Ho, Flor Molina, and Rachel Thomas. The recipients shared their experiences during the ceremony.
Royce's office issued the following in a news release.
"The start of this new year is a fitting
time to focus on the shameful fact that human slavery is a brutal
reality faced by more than 20 million victims around the world,
primarily women and girls," said Royce. "I am
incredibly thankful to the courageous survivors for sharing their stories today
and for the work they are doing to raise awareness about this form of
Shari Ho, Flor Molina, and Angela Guanzon were lured to the United States by foreign labor recruiters promising a
better life and honest employment. Instead, when they arrived in America, they were told they owed huge sums of money for their travel and entry into the
country and were subsequently forced into manual labor to “pay back"
Cody Foute and Rachel Thomas’ traffickers
preyed upon them in the United States and forced them into horrific
sexual trafficking. Thomas was a student at Emory University when she
met a talent agent who claimed he could help her modeling career. He soon became physically and mentally abusive,
forcing her into prostitution by threatening to kill her and her family. When Thomas was finally rescued and her trafficker arrested, the police discovered he had victimized over 75 women in seven years. Thomas is now the founder of Sowers Education Group, an
organization aimed at raising awareness of domestic sexual trafficking.
"Rachel's heartbreaking story is an
important reminder that human trafficking is not just a far-away problem but is happening on the streets of our own communities," Royce said.
Last year, Royce,
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, held a number of hearings on
human trafficking, including a field hearing to examine international
human trafficking and to assess efforts to combat trafficking at the international, Federal, State and local levels. He also launched a
Human Trafficking Congressional Advisory Committee (HTCAC) to address
human trafficking concerns, as well as offer policy recommendations; the HTCAC is comprised of victims’ rights groups, local and federal law enforcement agencies, and community advocates.