Rep. Kristi Noem today met with area advocates to explore new ways to combat human trafficking throughout South Dakota. Joined in Sioux Falls by representatives from Lutheran Social Services, My Sister Friends’ House, Be Free Ministries, A Child’s Voice, the Sioux Falls Police Department, and Junior League, Rep. Noem discussed the primary drivers of sex trafficking in South Dakota and worked with them to develop better ways to address the issue on the federal level.
“The sex trafficking industry doesn’t just happen abroad. It destroys lives right in our backyard,” said Rep. Noem. “South Dakota is blessed with many compassionate and dedicated advocates. As a mother, I am committed to making sure they have the tools needed to dismantle human trafficking networks, help survivors rebuild their lives and bring all those who exploit other human beings to justice. Now is the time.”
In an address to the South Dakota Legislature on Wednesday, Rep. Noem urged state lawmakers to remain focused on combatting the issue at the state level and explained she would be working at the federal level to complement their efforts.
Rep. Noem helped introduce the End Sex Trafficking Act (H.R. 2805) last summer, which makes the law clear that criminals who solicit or obtain the services of a trafficking victim should be arrested, prosecuted and convicted.
Rep. Noem has also co-sponsored the Stop Exploitation through Sex Trafficking Act (H.R. 3610) and the Child Sex Trafficking Data and Response Act (H.R. 2744). If enacted, H.R. 3610 would establish a national safe harbor law, which requires that minors engaged in prostitution are treated as trafficking victims, not criminals.
Because children in foster care are at greater risk of becoming a victim of sex trafficking, H.R. 2744 would ensure children in foster care and adoption assistance are reported to authorities for entry into the National Crime Information Center of the FBI within 24 hours of being found to be missing. The legislation would also require states to develop plans to address human trafficking within the foster care system and better identify the victims of sex trafficking who are under the state’s care.