My journey with the Central Valley Justice Coalition began years ago when I was first resourced as a survivor of human trafficking and everything else progressed from there. I started off as a volunteer assisting with the Human Trafficking 101 (now Understanding Human Trafficking) classes. Eventually, I joined the team as a volunteer prevention educator. In 2017, I accepted an invitation from the Justice Coalition board of directors and served for two-and-half consecutive years before taking this new opportunity to become a staff member.

headshot of Arien Pauls

“I believe God placed me with this amazing organization. I am a person who believes strongly that there is a time for everything and that timing is God’s alone!

After waiting eight years to get an official job position within the anti-human trafficking movement, I believe God placed me with this amazing organization. I am a person who believes strongly that there is a time for everything and that timing is God’s alone!  Equipped with both my lived experience and years of hands-on work in this field, plus a love for working with youth and at-risk populations, I knew I would be the perfect fit for the position of Program Manager.

Statement from Justice Coalition leadership: Arien Pauls is a driven advocate and an active leader in the Central Valley of California, fighting the issue of human trafficking by collaborating with local agencies and sharing her personal experiences to help implement change for victims and survivors of human trafficking. She has also served her first two-year term on the California CSEC Action Team Advisory Board. Arien has also worked as a volunteer as a lead victim advocate for adult women at Breaking the Chains, an organization that provides services to survivors of human trafficking.

In 2018, Arien was awarded the Eva Murillo Unsung Hero Award by the United States Congress. Her other interests include creating art for her small business, vintage memorabilia, parenting her daughter and wedding planning, as she will marry her best friend in December 2020. Currently, Arien is enrolled at Grand Canyon University, where she is pursuing a B.S. degree in Justice Studies.

Arien Pauls with Congressman Jim Costa in 2018

So we have many bills currently proposed in the state legislature. (see our previous post)
However, even if these pass, there are still needs to be addressed that are not in the current law. One major need is for the state law to reflect the federal definition of human trafficking of minors in prosecution of perpetrators of such a crime. In order to prove that a suspect is guilty of sex trafficking of an adult, it must be proven that there was force, fraud, or coercion involved. However, any juvenile who is being sold for sex is a sex trafficking victim, regardless if force, fraud, or coercion was used, according to the federal definition of human trafficking. As of yet, though, California state law requires that force, fraud, or coercion be proven for all human trafficking cases, including those involving juvenile victim. (Fortunately, California has one of the highest ratings for key Human Trafficking provisions, granted by Polaris Project)
California Against Slavery is working to get an initiative on the 2012 California ballot.
According to the group, this ballot initiative would strengthen California’s human trafficking laws by:
Increasing penalty for human trafficking from the current 8-year maximum in prison to a maximum of life in prison and fines up to $500,000
Protecting minors by allowing prosecutors to prove sex trafficking of a minor without a showing of force
Mandating human trafficking training for law enforcement officers.

To get the initiative on the ballot, they need to get 700,000 signatures and raise $1 million.
CAS has a list of their needs and volunteer opportunities on their website at http://californiaagainstslavery.org/get-involved/