Sex Trafficking in Sioux Falls: First Lutheran Church Seminar Series

Adult forums focus on education, awareness of sex trafficking in SF

According to the FBI, human trafficking is the 2nd largest criminal enterprise in the world, enslaving an estimated 27 million people, and its happening right here in South Dakota.

Wednesday was the first of two planned adult forums at First Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls on sex trafficking.

“It’s really hard to exactly say how much human trafficking there is, but we know there is human trafficking taking place in Sioux Falls,” said Sioux Falls Police Officer Sam Clemens.

Sex trafficking is the fastest-growing organized crime globally, with as many as 300,000 children and women at risk of being trafficked.

“Before 2010, we didn’t have any of these cases,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Clapper. “And since then, we’ve had a steady diet of prosecution of sex trafficking cases, and I attribute that to our aggressive law enforcement here in South Dakota.”

Clemens says Sioux Falls police department has recently shifted their focus from prosecuting women for prostitution, to finding victims of human trafficking and getting them out of the situation.

“We know there’s a lot of prostitution that’s going on in Sioux Falls,” he said. “And just based on those numbers alone, it’s a pretty fair assessment to say there’s a lot of women involved in prostitution that are doing it against their will.”

Advocates agree that the only way to shed light on the topic, is to openly discuss it.

“That’s the only way we are able to combat this human trafficking so that we are able to protect out mothers, our daughters, out aunts or nieces,” said Lisa Heth, Executive director of Wiconi Wawokiya.

Part two of the forum will take place next Wednesday, November 18.

The focus of that discussion will be how concerned citizens and members of the community can help combat and respond to the issue.

Next week’s forum will feature a video message from Representative Kristi Noem and representatives from The New Colossus, Children’s Inn, and the Junior League of Sioux Falls.

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