Support us with Kachingle!
August 30, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Human trafficking for sex or labor is a heinous crime that no one wants to think about, much less realize it’s happening just down the street. But domestic trafficking in our hometowns happens at an alarming rate. In the United States, between 14,500 and 17,500 men, women and children are enslaved.
Missouri is a hotbed for trafficking activity. An estimated 1,900 to 5,700 children in Missouri are at risk for human trafficking. As a transportation thoroughfare that includes the intersection of several interstates and big-city airports with international flights, the state’s location makes it an easy target. Other dubious distinctions, such as a high level of runaways and the country’s top meth production, help to create an environment in Missouri where trafficking can flourish.Related Articles
However, the state does have a proactive method for catching traffickers and rescuing victims. Task forces, agencies and coalitions work together to identify and prosecute traffickers and educate the public.
Our feature this week documents the first sex trafficking case prosecuted in Columbia and offers a glimpse into the world of the officer who cracked the case and the woman who lived it and found a way out.
Her experience shows that although the despicable activities of traffickers can and should make headlines, the story doesn’t end there. Behind the exploitation is the account of a survivor. Someone who, through her own strength and the assistance of a community that cared, managed to find stability again.
Sex trafficking is a difficult topic to discuss, but it’s important to do so because its strength lies within its secrecy.