Sticker to help human trafficking victims to be placed in public restrooms

PORTLAND, Ore. -- It is estimated up to 17,000 people a year in America are victims of human trafficking. People are enslaved, oftentimes for sex; but there is a new law right here in Oregon designed to help its victims.

When Glen Wallace renews his liquor license in June, the owner of O'Malley's Pub in Southeast Portland will get a sticker from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission that reads, "People are not property. There is freedom from those who are hurting you." The number, both phone and text message, connects to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline.

(That number: 1-888-373-7888; text: BeFree (233733)

"Not knowing who's coming into your bar, you want to give those people an avenue for help if they do need it. Getting them into the stalls and let people see them," Wallace said.

"Anytime they go into a restroom, they'd be reminded that there is help. And they're taken to public restrooms periodically," said Nita Belles, an advocate for victims. She says survivors, who helped design the freedom sticker, reported the only place they were ever really alone was in a bathroom.

Belles hopes one day it will be in restroom stalls - not just in Oregon - but across the country.

"The most horrific things happen to these victims because they're just a piece of flesh that is for sale," said Belles, who runs the nonprofit In Our Backyard.

Wallace says his bar will do its part to help end human trafficking.

"You don't want to see anyone controlled like that, and for the most part it's about awareness."

The new state law, that has the OLCC passing out the freedom stickers passed back in June; but there is a ceremonial signing of the legislation Monday, Nov. 16 at the Statehouse.

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