River to River
2:44 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Efforts to Curb Human Trafficking in the Midwest

Up to two million women and children worldwide are victimized by traffickers each year.

It’s often thought to be a problem outside our border, but the majority of sex trafficking victims in this country are U.S. citizens. And, some of these victims are right here in the Midwest.

This hour, host Ben Kieffer hears form a young woman who was trafficked for sex for six years. Also joining the conversation: Lexi O’Connor, the founder of Teens Against Human Trafficking, Terry Hernandez, Executive Director of the Chrysalis Foundation, and Lt. Kevin Kinney.

Lt. Kinney investigates potential sex trafficking cases for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department. In July, Kinney and his team charged five people after a sting operation in Hills, a small town just south of Iowa City. Kinney says officers found a 15-year-old girl, who had been picked up in Milwaukee and forced into prostitution. A 17-year-old was also discovered.

News Update: Governor Branstad signed legislation today to increase penalties for those involved in pimping and human trafficking, particularly among children and teens.

The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously—it creates a fund to aid human trafficking victims by adding a ‘surcharge’ to criminal fines for trafficking-related crimes. In addition, minors charged with prostitution can file a petition to allege they are a child in need of assistance, and have their record expunged after two years.

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If you are interested, the Chrysalis Foundation and Teens Against Human Trafficking will host an event April 28th and April 29th, "In Our Own Backyard: Human Trafficking in Iowa," in an effort to combat human trafficking in Iowa. The event features local and national experts on what is happening in Iowa, how to identify trafficking when you see it, and what we can do about it.

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