Human Trafficking Missouri Business Coalition

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JEFFERSON CITY – Tuesday morning Attorney General Josh Hawley announced the arrival of a new initiative to help in the fight against human trafficking.

He created a coalition of Missouri businesses that will educate employees on the basics of human trafficking is and how to identify the signs of a victim.

“Missouri’s businesses have a unique opportunity to help lead the fight against human trafficking, and this business council will provide the framework for them to do so,” Hawley said. “I know Missouri businesses will answer the call.”

The new business coalition is just one of two coalitions Hawley created in the past year focused on identifying and preventing trafficking.

In April, Hawley announced the first-ever statewide Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force is made up of law enforcement officials, local prosecutors, social-service providers, victims’ advocates, and individual human-trafficking survivors.

Nanette Ward is a member of the task force and the director of the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition. She said the creation of the task force was essential in starting conversation about human trafficking in Missouri.

"There are many groups that have to be involved in this crime and overcoming it and helping victims. It's critical that everybody is at the table," Ward said.

There are two types of trafficking that the task force and business coalition will try to educate the public about – sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act.

Labor trafficking has the same basic components of sex trafficking, but a person is used for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.

"This is the exploitation of human beings in forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. It's a form of slavery where people are illegally used against their will," Ward said.

Ward said education is a major component in being able to put a stop to trafficking. She said once people are aware of the several types of human trafficking, it may be easier to spot and stop it from spreading throughout the state.