Survivors of human trafficking united in San Diego Saturday for a street fair to raise awareness and education on the issue and provide resources to victims who may be suffering in silence.
Information booths and crowds lined the streets of North Park at the intersection of University Avenue and Ohio Street for the Freedom NOW Street Fair hosted by the Survivor Leader Network of San Diego, an organization that brings together survivors of human trafficking.
Organizers said the gathering was meant to unit allies and advocates of human trafficking victims and to mobilize the local community to be part of the solution to the rampant issue to human trafficking.
“Action is the antidote to despair. Demand freedom now,” organizers said.
The five-hour event was attended by several San Diego leaders, including State Senator Marty Block and Congresswoman Susan Davis.
The street fair also includes live music and poetry, including gut-wrenching spoken word readings from those who have survived a life of human trafficking. Emotional letters from child survivors saying goodbye to a life of prostitution were also read aloud.
NBC 7 spoke with one survivor, Marjorie Saylor, who said a family member abused her growing up and, at just 15 years old, she moved into a drug house. At 21, she was trafficked into prostitution, she said.
“In a life like that, you learn how not to trust,” Saylor said. “You learn horrible things happen in this world.”
However, now far removed from that life, Saylor said her outlook has changed.
“For me, I see the other side of that. I’m starting to see the good,” she explained. “Look at all these people who are coming out in this fight. There’s so much good. We want to stop this.”
Nationwide, Human Trafficking Awareness Month is in January.
The FBI currently ranks San Diego in the top 13 states for child prostitution. Saylor said predators know exactly who to target as victims of human trafficking.
Watch NBC 7 News at 6 p.m. for more on this important local event.