By Jennifer Reyes Lay, Congregational Office of JPIC Assitant.
In 2016 the MO State Legislature voted to officially make January a month of Human Trafficking Awareness and Action to correspond with the national month against trafficking. January 25, 2017 marked the second annual Sex Trafficking Awareness Day at the state capital in Jefferson City, MO.
Present at the event, sharing educational and prayer resources, were members of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and their ministry in Jefferson City, El Puente. Those present included Jennifer Reyes Lay, Assistant Director of the Congregational JPIC Office, Sr. Laura Magowen CCVI, Miriam Bannon, long time CCVI missionary now serving with El Puente, and Sr. Barbara Neist SSND, collaborator with El Puente.
About a dozen organizations from across Missouri were present sharing information about the services they provide to victims of trafficking. There was also a brief legislative review session where we learned about pending bills in the MO Senate related to sex trafficking. Those bills include:
- Senate Bill #68 which would require posting an informative poster about human trafficking including the phone number for the national human trafficking hotline in all high risk areas such as transportation hubs, motels, and medical facilities.
- Senate Bill #289 which would protect tenant’s rights who break a lease if they are a victims of sexual assault or trafficking and are in fear that their abuser or trafficker has found out where they live.
- Senate Bill #341 which would increase the penalty for those caught trafficking minors from a class A misdemeanor to a class E or D felony depending on the age of the child.
We encourage all those who live in Missouri to contact your state senators and representatives to support these bills.
Senator Jamilah Nasheed is the sponsor and/or co-sponsor of all of the above bills, and was the organizer for the Sex Trafficking Awareness Day. She has made this a key issue of focus during her time in the MO State Senate and we are grateful for her leadership and hard work to protect victims of sex trafficking and to help prevent it from happening in the future.
The day concluded with a press conference with Sen. Nasheed as well as two survivors of sex trafficking sharing their stories. It was a powerful day of advocacy for sex trafficking victims, and we were left energized by the news of a new human trafficking task force, headed by the MO Attorney General, to more systemically and strategically combat human trafficking in Missouri.
You can read local coverage of the event here: http://themissouritimes.com/37511/nasheed-hosts-rally-human-trafficking/
Originally posted in CCVI Congregational Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation’s blog.
On the header: Sr. Barbara Neist SSND and Miriam Bannon.