Kansas AG launches ‘Demand an End’ campaign to combat sex trafficking
photo by: Peter Hancock
TOPEKA — Calling it a modern form of slavery, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced Monday that his office is teaming up with more than 60 other public agencies and private organizations to launch a public awareness campaign to combat commercial sex trafficking in the state.
Speaking at a news conference at the Statehouse, Schmidt said the “Demand an End” campaign will focus on those who purchase sex.
“One area in which we need to do better is in focusing on deterring the demand for commercial sex, which ultimately is what drives the marketplace that in turn enables traffickers to make money off the selling and buying of others,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said the campaign, which is also taking place in 10 other states, will primarily consist of raising public awareness about commercial sex trafficking, including the trafficking of children for sex.
“Over the course of the next weeks, months, and perhaps more, we’ll continue to build with additional partners who choose to be part of this conversation,” he said. “We’ll ask our partners to share with their members, with their affiliates, with those they know around the state that Kansas demands an end.”
Joining in the announcement was Karen Countryman-Roswurm, founder of the Center for Combating Human Trafficking at Wichita State University, who said most enforcement action currently focuses on those who engage in prostitution — people she called survivors of commercial sexual exploitation — while those who purchase sex often go free.
“They continue to work at their jobs. They continue to go to church on Sunday. They continue to have meals with their family members in the evening,” she said of the purchasers. “And yet the young people, and even the adults that they purchased are detained. There’s something wrong with that, friends.”
Schmidt said he does not believe the lack of prosecution of purchasers is necessarily an indictment of prosecutors and law enforcement, but he said it is a matter of concern.
“I’ve looked at some of the numbers and they ought to raise an eyebrow,” he said.
Gina Meier-Hummel, secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, said children in the foster care system are particularly vulnerable to being exploited for sex, especially the roughly 70 children who have run away or otherwise gone missing from Kansas foster homes.
Others who took part in the news conference included Kansas Bureau of Investigation Director Kirk Thompson, Kansas Department of Labor Secretary Lana Gordon, Rotary District 5710 Governor Blanche Parks and Freedom Now USA Executive Director Barry Feaker.