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Human Trafficking is a Pressing Problem "in the Land of the Free"

The "Combating Human Trafficking" panel at CPAC in DC 2024 last week brought together human trafficking survivor and anti-Human Trafficking Director for the Attorney General of Virginia, Tanya Gould, founder of Latisha's House, Elizabeth Ameling, and Attorney General for the state of Ohio, David Yost to fight the rampant human trafficking happening in our own country.

The panelists brought to light the reality that human trafficking is no longer a far away issue, but a problem affecting our friends, neighbors, and family members right here at home in the United States.

Gould issued the grave reminder, "As we're moving and we're talking about, you know, the border and we're talking about this happens somewhere else, just remember that this is happening here, you know, in America, in the land of the free, the home of the brave."

With a vast number of victims in the United States and the average age of individuals entering trafficking at the startlingly young age of twelve, it's a problem that can no longer be ignored but demands action from non-profit organizations and reforms of the criminal justice system.

Ameling has seen through her work at her safe house, Latisha's House, how trafficking victims are often the ones facing criminal charges and incarceration while their traffickers go unknown and unpunished. She's observed how, as a result, victims are only pushed further into a cycle of crime and addiction and prevented from finding respectable employment and regaining control of their lives.

"Victims of trafficking have complex trauma. They have DID. They have mental illness. They have addiction. They have a lot of things that need to be dealt with and those things don't change overnight, and so we have two houses, and we're going national, where women come and they can stay and there's addiction counseling and parenting classes and financial literacy," said Ameling. "We have to overcome barriers like felonies. Women overwhelmingly, victims of trafficking, overwhelmingly have felonies and other things."

Yost as Attorney General of Ohio and Gould in her position at the Virginia Attorney General's office are working on solutions that support victims, hold traffickers accountable, and prevent human trafficking from the start. In Virginia, Gould has seen the implementation of the One Hundred Percent Back program that fosters awareness among business owners in Virginia to identify human trafficking and offer help to victims.

In Ohio, Yost has taken measures to criminalize the buying of sex, rather than punishing the victims of sex trafficking, and to expunge trafficking victims' criminal records, allowing them greater freedom to find stable employment and start a new life. Still, Yost recognizes the need to address human trafficking at its root: the open southern border. Though Ohio is not geographically a border state, the effects of the open border i.e. sex, drug, and labor trafficking are still reaching Ohio, and Yost hopes to prevent these crimes from growing by securing the United State-Mexico border.

Hear the panelists' full remarks on Rumble @CPAC.


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