East Portland Rotary Club walks NE 82nd Ave. to raise awareness of human trafficking

The East Portland Rotary Club walked a stretch of SE 82nd Ave. on Jan. 11, 2019 raise awareness of human trafficking. KATU photo

PORTLAND, Ore. – Friday was National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and People in Northeast Portland spent the day bringing the problem out of the shadows.

The East Portland Rotary Club sponsored an event Friday night called Shine a Light.

People holding battery-powered candles walked Northeast 82nd Avenue from Northeast Glisan Street to Northeast Sandy Boulevard. This area is notorious for prostitution and sex trafficking.

Portland has one of the highest rates of sex trafficking per capita in the country.

According to City Serve Portland, the average victim is nationally is 12-14 years old for girls and 11-13 years old for boys. Statistics show that it was about 15 years old in Portland back in 2013, with the youngest victim being 8 years old, spokesperson Dana Clark said.

"Who knows today, since they can only track victims once they are part of the system, and often victims have been on the street years before they are involved with law enforcement or an agency," Clark said.

Clark attributes Portland's problems with trafficking to homelessness, being on West Coast Track, and "the interpretation of the State Constitution regarding Free Speech, which is why we have more adult entertainment per capita in Portland than any other city in the United States."

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