Protecting Victims of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery. It is the exploitation of men, women, and children through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of forced labor or services or commercial sex.  When children are involved in commercial sex, which includes stripping, pornography or prostitution, they are victims of human trafficking; there is no need to show force, fraud or coercion.

In Kentucky, 59 percent of victims of human trafficking are children.  Victims of human trafficking range in age from infancy through age 17, but according to the Annual Report of Kentucky Child Victims of Human Trafficking, most victims are between the ages of 14 to 17.

The video below explains what human trafficking is and what it looks like in Kentucky.

In 2013, Kentucky’s legislature passed the Human Trafficking Victim’s Rights Act which ensures victims of trafficking, especially children exploited in commercial sex, are treated as victims rather than as criminals and are given access to healing services. Since 2013, reports of child trafficking to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services have increased by almost 50 percent each year, from 51 victims identified in 2013 to 125 victims identified 2015.

However, only about 10 percent of these cases led to criminal investigations and even fewer to prosecutions.

This legislative session, a bill around the prosecution of human trafficking was introduced by Representative Sannie Overly.

House Bill 229 would grant “concurrent jurisdiction” to the Attorney General’s Office in cases of human trafficking. Currently jurisdiction over these cases lies with Kentucky’s Commonwealth’s Attorneys and County Attorneys, and the bill would allow the Attorney General’s office to investigate and prosecute human trafficking, too.

This legislation has shown success in other states. In Indiana, the Attorney General has concurrent jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases, and they have seen a dramatic increase in the number of prosecutions as a result.

To learn more about human trafficking, including how to report and end it, please visit http://www.rescueandrestoreky.org/

If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, please call 1.888.373.7888.

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