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Forum On Domestic Violence In Oakland - North Gate News

From the North Gate News

This actually matches a Tagami Vision episode on the matter.

Forum Focuses on Domestic Violence, Sexual Exploitation
By Kerry Seed , October 29, 2007 at 11:49 pm

OAKLAND – Police are getting more cases of domestic violence and sexual exploitation in recent years, and the victims are younger, according to a city coalition that gathered Monday to report on what is being done about the problem.

More domestic violence incidents are reported in Oakland than in any other city in the nine-county Bay Area, said Jean Quan, City Council president pro tempore. And prosecutors say Internet prostitution has caused sexual exploitation cases to skyrocket.

“The Internet has increased the number of cases beyond what we can handle,” said Sharmin Eshraghi, an Alameda County assistant district attorney who focuses on human exploitation and trafficking. “We have an epidemic. There’s more than we can actually prosecute.”

With Domestic Violence Awareness month drawing to a close, about 40 people gathered in the city council chambers to discuss how the intertwined phenomena of domestic violence and sexually exploited minors continue to plague the city. Quan sponsored the forum, designed to educate the press and public, over the objections of some who wanted her to focus on violent crimes and drugs. But she said that addressing domestic violence attacks the root causes of many crimes, including human trafficking in Oakland. While speakers presented a lot of information and statistics, no new initiatives were announced.

Oakland residents reported 5,005 cases of domestic violence to the police in 2006. More than half of those incidents involved children.

“Domestic violence is a real crime,” Quan said.

Also last year, the district attorney’s office charged 70 men with crimes associated with human trafficking. So far this year, the office has charged 19 cases and adjudicated 35. Some of those charged are looking at life sentences.

But Oakland appears to have a higher rate of domestic violence and human trafficking cases also because the city is going after those cases aggressively, Quan added.
Oakland’s police force has special training that helps it to be more responsive to the issue. Oakland is also home to the Alameda County Family Justice Center, where the police special victims unit, social service agencies and legal assistance services are all housed under one roof, providing a one-stop center for families experiencing domestic violence.
Eshraghi said that she sees an increasing number of girls between the age of 11 and 16 who fall prey to “boyfriend pimps,” who confuse girls by pretending to have a loving relationship with them, and “guerilla pimps,” who snatch girls off the street and turn them out as prostitutes.

A potent mixture of Internet-based prostitution advertisements and popular songs, phrases and products that celebrate pimping are to blame for this trend, Eshraghi said.

Oakland is a magnet for prostitution for a number of reasons, Quan said. Half of the johns arrested in Oakland come from outside the city to a place where they can be anonymous. And, because of the long history of drugs in Oakland, there is a high number of children in foster care, she said.

“Half of sexually exploited girls are from foster care,” she said.

A child who grows up witnessing the father abusing the mother is at high risk for exhibiting violent behavior on the next generation, according to Quan. Violent juvenile offenders are four times more likely to grow up in homes where they saw violence, and 80 percent of youth runaways come from violent homes. Children who are abused are four times more likely than their peers to become victims of sexual exploitation, she said.

Almost all young people who fall prey to pimps are runaways, according to Nola Brantley, director of the Safe Place Alternative for teens who are escaping the streets. She said runaways and sexually exploited children share the same root cause.

“Victims of early childhood sexual abuse are being re-victimized as they come into adolescence,” Brantley said.

The forum was a follow-up to a domestic violence fair the city held earlier this month.

The forum was recorded and will be televised on KTOP Channel 10 on Nov. 2 at 3:30 p.m. and Nov. 3 at 6 p.m.
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