BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — It’s no secret Kern has a human trafficking problem. Officials say more children become victims of human traffickers in California than anywhere else in the nation. A survivor shared her story during a conference at the Marriott in downtown Bakersfield this afternoon. The District Attorney’s Office teamed up with first responders from around the country to train first responders to better tackle this crime. Survivor and advocate Oree Freeman says she was sexually abused before she was old enough to drive a car.
“You need to know who I was before that. Because I didn’t wake up one day and say I wanted to be trafficked, that I wanted to be exploited, or that I wanted to be raped seven to 15 times a night. I didn’t ask that,” said Freeman. “I wanted to be a lawyer, I wanted to be the president. I wanted to do other things than be trafficked and be beaten. It’s not a choice to be out there. And even if you believe for years that it was a choice, it’s not.”
“The average age for a young girl to go into human trafficking is 12 years old. This unacceptable. We want to do better,” said Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer. “When we drive down Union Avenue with disgust at some of the women that are out there, I hope people have a change in attitude about what’s going on.”
Event organizers say they want to push legislation that will make human trafficking a violent felony on a state level, to create harsher punishments for human traffickers.