Human trafficking is an Iowa problem too

Human Trafficking Awareness Day is Jan. 11. Human trafficking is a problem all over the world, including Iowa and even in towns like Marshalltown. In the USA alone, the sex industry generates 32 billion dollars a year and it is going rapidly. Selling sex is much more profitable than selling drugs because while drugs are consumed in one sitting, humans can be used over and over again. Many prostitutes around the United States are kidnapped youth between the ages of 12-14. Most of these youth are homeless and without friends or family members to search for them. In Iowa alone there were 3,800 homeless youth last year. Many of these wayward youth are looking for a caring adult and provision when they fall prey to false promises from traffickers. They realize, all too late, that they are being held prisoner as a sex slave.

Professor Teresa Downing from Iowa State University reported individual stories just like this happening across Iowa in the past year. This continues to be a problem because of the large number of men who support the sex industry by engaging in prostitution. Professor Downing reported that often law enforcement agents will arrest prostitutes and pimps but allow the men who pay for sexual services off the hook with a slap on the wrist. Thus, the “customers” keep up the demand with little fear of public humiliation or severe consequences, while the prostitutes, many of whom are, or were victims of the sex trade, are thrown in and out of the system.

As such, I am calling on our local law enforcement agents to also arrest the men who support prostitution. Sometimes these men are from a higher socioeconomic status with no criminal record and are thus let go. This needs to change. Men need to know they will be arrested and prosecuted for committing this crime. If we can change this, the entire industry could be slowed and eventually stopped because men will realize there will be severe consequences for their actions. I want to make an appeal to Marshall County residents and our local law enforcement agents to please arrest the men who create a need for the sex industry. Together we can work toward stopping this heinous treatment of women and children.