TOPEKA – (November 20, 2019) – Kansas is one of fifteen states whose laws receive an “A” ranking from an international human trafficking victim advocacy group, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.
Shared Hope International, a victim advocacy group that seeks to end sex trafficking and exploitation of women and children worldwide, issues annual report cards on state laws through its Protected Innocence Challenge. For the third year in a row, Kansas has received an “A” grade from Shared Hope International for its statutes combating human trafficking, scoring a 93.5 out of a possible 102.5 points for 2019.
Combating human trafficking in Kansas has been a priority for Schmidt. Since taking office in 2011, Kansas’s score has risen from an “F” to an “A,” one of only six states that has done so. While serving in the State Senate, he supported the 2005 legislation that created the first Kansas anti-human trafficking statute and proposed additional legislation in 2010. As attorney general, he proposed legislation in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018 that strengthened Kansas laws against human trafficking.
In February, Schmidt presented a petition with more than 3,500 signatures to the Kansas Legislature and the governor demanding an end to the sexual exploitation of human beings. The petition was a result of Demand an End, a sex trafficking-specific public awareness campaign driven by a demand-focused approach and designed to complement and build upon legislative initiatives to deter buyers and reduce the demand for commercial sex. Kansas was one of 11 states that participated in the effort.
“Kansas continues to take a comprehensive approach to address what is a complex crime,” said Schmidt. “The result of these efforts has been more-effective prosecution, additional training and better support for victims. A key focus of our office has been raising awareness of the driving force behind sex trafficking with the Demand an End campaign earlier this year. We will continue to partner with the Legislature and others across the state to make a positive difference for victims in Kansas.”
One area in which Shared Hope International suggests Kansas statutes have room for improvement is in the criminal justice system’s handling of sex-trafficking victims who themselves commit crimes. The Legislature began discussions of that subject last session, and Schmidt said he anticipates those discussions to continue next year.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, human trafficking is one of the largest and fastest-growing criminal industries in the world. It is based on recruiting, harboring and transporting people for the purpose of exploitation. Both sex trafficking and labor trafficking occur in Kansas, and both adults and children are victims.
A copy of the Shared Hope scorecard for Kansas can be found at https://bit.ly/2pC83tR.