South Dakota has a champion in the fight against sex trafficking in Washington DC. Congresswoman Kristi Noem has cosponsored four human trafficking bills that have passed the U.S. House with strong bipartisan support. These bills, if passed through the Senate and signed into law by the President, would provide additional protection and support to trafficking victims and survivors, give law enforcement and prosecutors additional tools in their work to combat the trafficking in persons, and provide additional resources to organizations and task forces working to end human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a growing problem in America and in South Dakota. From coast to coast vulnerable individuals are exploited daily in some of the most barbaric and unthinkable situations. More than 100,000 American children are victims of sex trafficking through prostitution every year, and the average age of initial exploitation is 12-14 years old.
Those who are victimized often face a new set of challenges once they’re freed, and lack of adequate intervention and support often leads to re-exploitation. These bills would provide additional resources to support survivors, and they would increase the damages survivors are able to collect in successful court cases.
Law enforcement members in South Dakota have been working diligently to rise to the challenges, and the increase in arrests and convictions is a testament to their hard work and commitment. These bills would strengthen law enforcement’s hand, and provide prosecutors with the ability to hold accountable those who knowingly profit when victims are advertised on their classified websites.
Nonprofit organizations have been working to raise awareness and link hands across the state with others who are engaging in this fight. These bills would enhance our ability to accomplish our missions, and put an end to sex trafficking in South Dakota.
South Dakota is fortunate, nay, blessed, to have Representative Kristi Noem in Washington DC fighting for the freedom and restoration of victims of sex trafficking, and for accountability and justice for those who exploit them.
Thank you Representative Noem! May God bless and strengthen you as you serve the people of this great state.
By Tess Franzen