TOPEKA – (December 21, 2016) − Kansas Governor Sam Brownback today proclaimed January to be Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Gov. Brownback was joined by Attorney General Derek Schmidt; Secretary Lana Gordon, Kansas Department of Labor; Secretary Phyllis Gilmore, Kansas Department for Children and Families; Secretary Susan Mosier, M.D., MBA, FACS, Kansas Department of Health and Environment; and Secretary Joe Norwood, Kansas Department of Corrections in issuing today’s proclamation.
“Kansas was founded on the conviction that every life has dignity. Today, human trafficking is an affront on that dignity, depriving victims of their freedom and human rights,” Brownback said. “Kansas will continue its efforts to end this form of modern day slavery.”
Human trafficking is one of the largest and fastest-growing criminal industries in the world. It is based on recruiting, harboring and transporting people for the purpose of exploitation. Both sex trafficking and labor trafficking occur in Kansas and both adults and children are victims. Kansas’ location and interstate system make it a major transportation area for victims of human trafficking.
“Our office remains committed to efforts to thwart criminal activity, hold accountable both traffickers and buyers, and provide victim support. Awareness is also an important part of combating human trafficking,” Schmidt said. “The public can assist by reporting suspicious activity to the national hotline at 888-3737-888 or to local law enforcement in an emergency situation. The watchful eyes of Kansas citizens can help protect those who are vulnerable from this crime against human dignity.”
“The Kansas Department for Children and Families is fully committed to helping ensure that child victims of human trafficking are treated as such, and receive the supports and services they need to overcome this crime against them,” Gilmore said. “Preventing human trafficking is essential, and it requires the help of our partnering State agencies, law enforcement and members of the public. We encourage anyone who suspects the abuse of a child, whether physical or sexual abuse, to contact the Kansas Protection Report Center right away.”
The 2013 Kansas human trafficking laws define commercial exploitation of children, which does not require a showing of force, fraud, threat or coercion and references the existing statutory definition of human trafficking and aggravated human trafficking.
“The legislators strengthened our ability to prosecute labor traffickers, but it is still a big problem,” Gordon said. “While we have made immense strides with the bill, we cannot stop there and need to continue fighting. Nearly 20 percent of trafficking involves labor exploitation. If you or someone you know is working under unfair conditions, please report it.”
Labor trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion.
“The Kansas Department of Health and Environment works together with the attorney general’s office, the Department for Children and Families, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Labor and law enforcement to educate the public on the presence of human trafficking, how to recognize the signs, and what to do if you see these signs,” Mosier said.
The governor along with the attorney general’s office, DCF, KDHE, KDOC and KDOL are working together to educate Kansans about the presence of human trafficking, what to look for and how to report suspected human trafficking. Educational information is provided on the agencies’ websites.
“Each state agency has an important part to play in the eradication of human trafficking,” Norwood said. “In our contact with both the victims and the perpetrators of human trafficking, the KDOC is eager to continue its role to end this assault on basic freedom.”
For more information on human trafficking, go to http://ag.ks.gov/human-trafficking .