The first meeting will be held this week of a task force to discuss human trafficking in Missouri. Gayle Reynoso with the Missouri Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence is a member of the panel and says finding the resources to assist human trafficking victims will be a priority.
“Many people who have experienced human trafficking have also experienced domestic and sexual violence,” says Reynoso. “Our domestic and sexual violence programs are already so taxed. Last year for example, more than 23,000 people were turned away from shelters.”
Reynoso says Missouri doesn’t have tools in place to keep people from becoming victims.
“The thing is, prevention really has to focus on addressing demand and the societal reasons that the purchase of sex is acceptable. So I hope that’s something as well the task force looks at,” says Reynoso.
A resolution to establish the task force was unanimously passed by the Missouri Legislature this year. The task force will be responsible for raising awareness, providing organizations and agencies that enforce human trafficking laws a central place to share information, and making recommendations for legislation to the General Assembly.
Proponents of trafficking legislation say the human trafficking industry generates $150 billion a year in profits worldwide, with an estimated 21 million victims, 5.5 million of those being children.