sex trafficking

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — All of Western Kansas has just one shelter for children who are in protective custody or are victims of sex trafficking. The new shelter isn’t taking kids yet, because it’s waiting on its license, but local officials say those 14 beds are needed.

Senate Democrats - 7W9A7485 / Wikimedia

Gretchen Carlson will be the keynote speaker at Wichita State University’s Center for Combating Human Trafficking annual conference on Friday.

Carlson, former co-host of “Fox & Friends,” helped to herald in the #MeToo movement when she sued former Fox CEO Roger Ailes in 2016 for sexual harassment.

The 2019 movie “Bombshell” is based on her experiences at Fox. This year’s conference theme is “Be the Bombshell: Ignite Your Power,” and will discuss the importance of individual voices.

Other featured speakers are:

A Kansas woman who was sex trafficked as a minor and later convicted of felony sex crimes should not receive a pardon from Gov. Laura Kelly, a panel says.

From cries of heartbreak to a call for the prosecution of men who pay for sex with girls, Kansas lawmakers said the story of Hope Zeferjohn, a teen victim of sex-trafficking who was prosecuted for sex crimes, focuses a harsh light on a state system that is supposed to protect children.

Hope Joy Zeferjohn was missing from the Kansas Capitol on the day her family was posing for pictures with the governor.

It was May 22, 2015, and then-Gov. Sam Brownback was signing a proclamation for Family Reunification Month.

Zeferjohn’s parents and siblings stood behind him, literal poster children for Brownback’s efforts to return children to their homes from foster care.

At first, they wanted to save her.

Then, after she fled the Kansas foster care system at age 16 and fell victim to the commercial sex trade, social workers told her she was going to prison forever.

"When I went into foster care and they wanted to take me away from my family, I ran," she said. "I ran away, and that's how I really started to get into all of this trouble. After I ran away, that's when they started treating me like, 'Oh, you're a suspect and you're not innocent.'

Kansas Attorney General's office

A new awareness campaign in Kansas is aimed at cutting the demand for prostitution as a way to fight human trafficking.

The campaign involves state agencies and local advocacy groups teaming up to push the Demand an End initiative. It involves education and announcements warning people that buyers of sex face charges.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Tuesday that the campaign wants to create a culture where buying sex is not acceptable. He said it’s not a victimless crime.

“The money goes somewhere,” he said. “It fuels a marketplace.

The Center for Combating Human Trafficking / Wichita State University

The Center for Combating Human Trafficking at Wichita State University will host an event Thursday focusing on the criminalization of individuals who have survived sex trafficking.

The center’s “Love Not Lockup” event will feature a showing of the documentary "Me Facing Life: Cyntoia's Story" by Dan Birman. Cyntoia Brown was arrested for the 2004 murder of a 43-year-old man. Brown, who was 16 at the time, was forced into prostitution and the man had solicited her for sex. She was given a life sentence.

Center for Combating Human Trafficking

Two local events are scheduled in January to mark National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

The Wichita Women in Health Professions will host a panel discussion by representatives of local agencies working to prevent trafficking. The event is scheduled for Jan. 23 at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita. It will begin at 5:30 p.m.

fbi.gov

Six children were recovered, and one suspect was arrested in Kansas during a nationwide sex trafficking sting that took place earlier this month.

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