Local Business Executives, Health care Providers, Legal Experts, Advocates and Faith Leaders Take Action to End Violence Against Women. Studies Show Nearly Half of All California Human Trafficking Occurs in Bay Area; Domestic Violence Fall-Out Costs Business Billions Each Year
SAN FRANCISCO -- Today, hundreds of business leaders, health care providers, educators, advocates, faith leaders and policy-makers gathered in San Francisco for the first-ever "Ending Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking in the 21st Century" summit.
The one-day symposium reinforced the growing response and efforts by businesses, health care systems and faith communities to combat violence against women. Featured speakers included University of Southern California law professor and author Susan Estrich, State Senator Jackie Speier, Mills College President Janet Holmgren and a surprise video address from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Survivors of domestic violence and trafficking also spoke. "It takes a community to fight violence against women, and that's what we've seen at today's summit," said Nancy Milliken, M.D., director of the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women's Health. "Our hope is that this powerful network of academic and community leaders we've brought together will help inspire and seed similar prevention efforts across the country to protect women and girls."
At the summit, Bay Area organizations, businesses and advocates were recognized for their pioneering work to identify and report incidences of human trafficking and domestic violence in their own backyards. According to the Human Rights Center at the University of California at Berkeley, nearly half (47%) of all reported human trafficking incidents in California between 1998 and 2003 occurred in the Bay Area. The Department on the Status of Women reports that last year in San Francisco, more than 12,500 crisis calls were made to domestic violence hotlines. Given that both human trafficking and domestic violence crimes are notoriously under-reported, experts agree that the incident rates are probably much higher.
"One of the most unsettling things about human trafficking and domestic violence is that they happen right in front of us and in our own neighborhoods, which is why community-based prevention is such an imperative," said Roselyne C. Swig, summit co-chair and founder of Partners Ending Domestic Abuse. "Each of us plays a critical role in ensuring women and children are safe from violence through a heightened awareness and the important initiatives that have been presented."
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the costs of intimate partner violence annually exceed $5.8 billion, including $4.1 billion in direct health care expenses and $900 million in lost productivity. Many businesses are realizing that there are bottom line as well as ethical and legal reasons to address domestic violence at work.
Macy's West, the Blue Shield of California Foundation, the San Francisco Giants and Kaiser Permanente were among the local businesses that presented their workplace initiatives to train employees to identify and respond to domestic violence. They also shared corporate-sponsored public awareness campaigns to educate the greater community.
In a national telephone survey conducted last year by the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, 44% of employed adults surveyed said they personally experienced domestic violence's effect in their workplaces.
"Managers need to be briefed on how to recognize signs of domestic violence and respond appropriately to ensure the safety of not only the victim but of all employees," said Brigid McCaw, M.D., medical director of the family violence prevention program at Kaiser Permanente.
A highlight of the event was a surprise prepared video statement from Senator Clinton. Clinton's video, which was introduced by her former White House Chief of Staff and the current Vital Voices Global Partnership board chairman, Melanne Verveer, gave one of the day's first calls to action.
"These barbaric practices have caused far too many women and families to exist in a perpetual state of fear and vulnerability," said Clinton. "Through our combined efforts we can work at the grassroots and legislative levels to end the cycle of abuse and trafficking."
Summit attendees received action kits with specific tips for how the business community, individuals and faith leaders can make a direct impact on ending human trafficking and domestic violence. The tips range from how to recognize the signs of domestic violence or human trafficking to how a business can set up employee trainings. As a follow up to the summit, a Leadership Academy will be held on March 31 at Mills College to encourage ongoing activism and legislative advocacy.
Click here for more information on the "Ending Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking in the 21st Century" summit or Leadership Academy and to download action kits.
Family Violence Prevention Fund, Global Fund for Women, International Museum of Women, Mills College, Partners Ending Domestic Abuse, The San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women's Health, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, and Vital Voices Global Partnership.
Kaiser Permanente, Nancy Milliken, MD, The California Wellness Foundation, KQED Public Broadcasting, Lifetime Television, San Francisco Business Times, AT&T, Blue Shield of California, California Endowment, Gerbode Foundation, Global Fund for Women, The David B. Gold Foundation, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, Lisa Stone Pritzker, Roselyne C. Swig, Hellman Family Foundation and Macy's West.