The head of a Kentucky organization focusing on helping human trafficking victims move forward with their lives says more attention needs to be given to those paying for the criminal activity. A capitol event Tuesday recognized Human Trafficking Awareness month.
Summer Dickerson told those gathered in the rotunda she’s coming up on five years of being free from what she called a horrible crime. She is founder of Louisville-based Women of the Well, which provides long term services to survivors of human trafficking. Dickerson would like to see legislation focusing on buyers. “We hear stories about pimps and traffickers being arrested, but you don’t hear that much about buyers. I think until we hit every avenue and hold buyers more accountable, we’re going to have a hole in the thing,” said Dickerson.
Jeanne Allert, founder of Maryland’s first long term residential program for victims of domestic human trafficking, said the human trafficking problem is found internationally, nationally, and within state borders.
“We need to understand that the threat of exploitation is not exclusively coming from outside. It’s not the other. It is also coming from within. Across the United States and here in this state, as well as in mine own parents are selling their own children for sex and for drugs,” explained Allert.
University of Louisville social work professor Jennifer Middleton spoke about research of almost 700 Kentucky cases of child trafficking over five years. Middleton noted most cases involved family controlled trafficking where a family member gave offenders sexual access to children in exchange for money, drugs, or something else of value.
Weku's Stu Johnson spoke with Summer Dickerson about the Women of the Well program:
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