We are asked everyday why Human Trafficking, Labor Trafficking and Anti-Sexual Exploitation Efforts are not “Publicly” spoken about here in our great state of Missouri? It’s Quite simple actually. We are a state stuck smack dab in the middle of a country that is over 2000 miles wide and 1000 miles long from top to bottom!!!
Until this past year, yes that would be 2020, we did not even have a relationship with Polaris.org and we were not able to have accountable reports turned into the Human Trafficking Commission Each Year. Now, how is that possible some might ask? Easy! Political and administrative corruption.
We have worked this entire year to bring about positive and effective change in the MO. Legislative and political arenas but we are being blocked by a collaborative. Effort of big dark money that doesn’t want this subject spoken about. Since 2018 STL has had its Human Trafficking Task Force disavowed and disbanded and now this year we find out a few months ago after investigating the Labor Trafficking in Kansas City, they have now shut our Labor Trafficking Task Force down.
At every turn we have been blocked. We were told “No” to a Multi-Media campaign because it would make people not want to move to our city or send their children to our colleges. Well? Then let’s fix this! Let’s end the corruption and let’s start educating our advocates, teachers, elected officials and most importantly the public as to what is truly going on in our state!
Here in Missouri our research shows that during COVID-19 the likelihood that sex trafficking survivors are returning to sex trading under these conditions ARE HAPPENING. These were some of the reasons given in our area:
- “Due to lack of employment/jobs, it is anticipated many are returning. In an outreach at strip clubs, many of the victims/dancers were brand new and reported it was their first time dancing for pay/money. I would say new women are now trading sex and that survivors who lost their income may be returning, but have not verified this.”
- “Very likely. We know this is happening, especially at street level.”
- “Was not a factor as long as the $600 unemployment enhancement was in effect, big risk now that its ending.”
- “A lot of survivors are being exploited online, rather than in person, during COVID.”
We had 10 agencies able to get funding through the CARES Act, 4 that could not and 2 that did not even know what it was that participated in the survey.
Overall Covid19 has rocked our World, but when it comes to our fight with Anti-Human Trafficking work we can see by the statistics here with 75% saying that web-based meetings/telecommuting enhanced our work with other agencies and coalitions and only 25% said it hindered their efforts this year. In our state we did not truly know what was happening around our state due to misinformation and ineffective narratives. This cannot happen anymore. We MUST bring the correct narrative back to focusing on the predators and criminals of these crimes and stop re-victimizing the survivors of these horrendous traumas. Everyday is a new step forward and I truly hope that you read this with an open heart.