On The Issues
By some estimates, 100,000 individuals are trafficked in the U.S. each year, most of them women and many of them children. Sadly, Missouri is not immune. Month after month, we read stomach-churning reports of sex trafficking. There is a role each of us can play in fighting trafficking by simply understanding what to look out for, but a broader policy shift needs to occur as well to better prevent trafficking, intervene when it does occur, and help survivors rebuild.
As governor, I would:
Get tough on those who sell, buy, or market trafficking victims for sex. Whether you’re a trafficker, a website that facilitates trafficking, or someone who purchases trafficking victims for sex, your activity will have no place in Missouri. As Governor, I will ensure Missouri does not go easy on perpetrators – the punishment will fit the heinousness of these crimes;
Make sure traffickers pay. Traffickers make an estimated $150 billion annually, according to the International Labor Organization. If elected governor, I will fight to strengthen the state’s restitution laws in trafficking cases, bringing justice and offering victims more financial support for medical and mental health services, housing, childcare and other related expenses;
Expand intervention training to first responders and medical professionals. Research indicates more than 85% of survivors received medical treatment while being trafficked, but the vast majority of healthcare professionals have never received training on how to identify a victim or intervene should they suspect something is going on. We must leverage federal and state training resources, in partnership with nonprofits and professional organizations, to ensure Missouri’s healthcare professionals are equipped to identify and intervene when a victim enters the exam room;
Secure access to emergency and transitional housing. A home is so often where recovery begins, and yet, transitional housing for sex trafficking survivors is scarce. In many cases, sex trafficking survivors require stronger security protocols and different support services than other victims of violence. If elected, I would expand existing grant programs in order to offer transitional housing, healing, and hope to many more trafficking survivors.