The University of California San Diego signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Project Concern International (PCI) yesterday to jointly advance anti-human trafficking efforts in San Diego County.
The MoU was signed by UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla and PCI’s President & CEO Carrie Hessler-Radelet following “No More, No More,” a human trafficking awareness program hosted by the Social Impact and Innovation (SII) Program at UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute. Hessler-Radelet was the keynote speaker for the event, which included performances by UC San Diego theatre students and Buki Domingos, a singer/songwriter and survivor of human trafficking.
“Even though we’d like to think these unspeakable crimes only take place in far-off corners of the globe, we face a very different reality,” Hessler-Radelet said. “It’s time for us to put one of San Diego’s largest underground economies out of business together.”
As part of the MoU, UC San Diego intends to officially join PCI’s Business Alliance Against Human Trafficking. This developing coalition of San Diego-based corporations will focus on implementing best practices that actively address the root causes of sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.
“UC San Diego is signing this Memorandum of Understanding because we have to do everything we can to help our local and global community members and have a positive impact on our society,” remarked Chancellor Khosla. “Educating people is one way to do that. We must bring social awareness to our work every day. It’s a part of who we are as a university, and universities are the cause of significant changes in our society.”
The International Labor Organization estimates that human trafficking generates more than $150 billion in illegal profits each year, with more than one-third of that amount coming from forced labor exploitation, and the rest from sexual exploitation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ranks San Diego among the top 13 cities known for the prostitution of children and estimates there are between 3,400-8,100 victims of sex trafficking in the city every year, including students from San Diego’s institutions of higher learning. Sex trafficking in San Diego amounts to an $810 million industry. Put in perspective, that sum is just below the economic impact of the natural resources and mining industries in San Diego, and slightly higher than the sale of the Padres baseball team in 2012.
Naila Chowdhury, director of Social Impact and Innovation at the Qualcomm Institute, was instrumental in arranging the MOU between PCI and UC San Diego.
In her remarks at the “No More, No More” event, SII Director Naila Chowdhury championed UC San Diego for taking a lead in creating awareness around the issue of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, and urged members of the public to educate themselves and become involved.
“This is a problem for us in our own backyard,” said Chowdhury. “Our silence gives [the perpetrators] strength. We weaken their growth through collaboration.”
About PCI: PCI is a global development organization dedicated to empowering families and communities to enhance health, end hunger and overcome hardship. Founded in 1961, PCI impacted the lives of more than 10 million people last year alone through programs in 16 countries spanning Asia, Africa, and the Americas. For more information, visit www.pciglobal.org.