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Kentucky is often called a focal point for human trafficking, due in part to the state’s interstate system, poverty and youth homelessness. State and local advocates hope to raise awareness on the issue and connect victims to services.
A lack of awareness means the crime often goes unreported.
The Kentucky Department of Education defines human trafficking as: exploiting someone for labor and/or commercial sex, through “fraud, force, or coercion, making it modern day slavery.”
Research cited by the University of Louisville’s Human Trafficking Research Initiative found that 98 percent of trafficking victims in the nation are women or girls. Kentucky youth are especially vulnerable, due in part to high rates of youth homelessness, child maltreatment, and poverty.
State and local officials have worked over time to deter human trafficking, passing the Human Trafficking Victims’ Rights Act in 2013 and creating the Office of Child Abuse & Human Trafficking Prevention & Prosecution in 2016. Governor Andy Beshear also proclaimed January as “Human Trafficking Awareness Month” during a Capitol event last week, and Attorney General Daniel Cameron pledged to provide resources to law enforcement tackling the issue.
Some officials say events like the Kentucky Derby can present challenges to law enforcement trying to prevent trafficking — though others say it does not increase during the Derby and other major sporting events.
This week on In Conversation, we discuss human trafficking in Kentucky, what research says about the crime, and what resources are available for victims. Our guests include Summer Dickerson, founder of the Women of the Well Ministry that helps human trafficking survivors.
Listen to In Conversation live on 89.3 WFPL Friday at 11 a.m. or follow along with our live tweets at @WFPLnews. Call with your questions or comments at 502-814-TALK or tweet us with the hashtag #WFPLconversation. We’re also on Facebook.