The Missouri Senate Minority Caucus Whip says fighting human trafficking is a bipartisan issue.

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed speaks at the Missouri Capitol at a January 23, 2018 rally against human trafficking (photo courtesy of Missouri Senate photographer Harrison Sweazea]

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, praises sex trafficking survivor Chiquita Tillman for telling her story at an anti-trafficking rally at the State Capitol in Jefferson City.

Nasheed describes Tillman’s message as a “testimony of triumph.”

“Where a woman was victimized by way of a predator at the tender age of 15,” Nasheed says. “And to overcome that was a phenomenal story to hear.”

Tillman grew up in southeast Missouri’s Caruthersville, before running away from home.

She tells the audience she was forced to work as a prostitute in Los Angeles, and was repeatedly raped and beaten.

Tillman now works to bring awareness to the issue of sex trafficking.

Meantime, the Missouri Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee has held a hearing on Nasheed’s bill aimed at helping human trafficking victims.

Nasheed tells Missourinet this is a bipartisan issue, praising both Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, and State Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, for their support on the issue.

“This is a human rights issue and this is a civil rights issue,” says Nasheed. “These are people who have been victimized by way of their predators.”

Nasheed’s bill would allow those forced into prostitution against their will to have their criminal records relating to prostitution expunged, upon court approval.

She describes human trafficking as a “serious, silent epidemic” in Missouri.

Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) says that in 2017, the National Trafficking Hotline took 240 reports of human trafficking in the state of Missouri.