As a part of the Missouri Capitol’s Sex Trafficking Awareness Day, lawmakers and other officials spoke at a rally held Tuesday afternoon. The day was a part of Missouri’s Sex Trafficking Awareness Month, which takes place in January.
The rally, assembled by Missouri Senator Jamilah Nasheed, featured speeches by lawmakers on the importance of combating sex trafficking in the state.
Representative Cora Faith Walker, who currently sponsors a bill that “prohibits the prosecution of minor children for prostitution,” emphasized how awareness is not enough.
“It’s beyond time that our laws, our policies and procedures catch up to the sophisticated nature that exists in the human trafficking industry.” Walker said.
Attorney General Josh Hawley also spoke at the rally and discussed both statistics concerning human trafficking in Missouri and his office’s actions to combat it.
According to Hawley, 240 cases of trafficking were reported in Missouri by the National Trafficking hotline. Additionally over the last 10 years, there have been 1000 potential victims in the state.
Hawley discussed using new regulations in consumer protection laws to go after traffickers and how Missouri is the first state to use this approach.
Ultimately, Hawley stated that society needed to change for sex trafficking to end.
“We will not eradicate the trafficking scourge from this state, or from this country, until we change our culture about how our culture views women,” Hawley said.
Hawley also announced a new series of training videos provided to the public to learn more about trafficking, including how to report and combat it.
Other speakers at the rally included Representatives Bruce Franks Jr. and Tracy McCreery, Senators Nasheed, Bob Onder and Gina Walsh and sex trafficking survivor Chiquita Tillman.