A red dress can be seen at a vigil for Ashlea Aldrich, a Native woman who was killed on the Omaha Reservation, at the Lincoln Indian Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, on January 11, 2020. Photo by Kevin Abourezk

Rep. Markwayne Mullin: Taking a stand against human trafficking

Mullin' It Over
Let’s Work Together to End Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry affecting nearly 25 million people around the world. Throughout the United States, there were 10,949 cases of human trafficking reported in 2018 to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH).

But unfortunately, this isn’t something that just happens in big cities far away from Oklahoma. The tragedy of human trafficking happens in our own backyard. In Oklahoma, there were 121 cases of human trafficking reported in 2018 and nearly 2,000 contacts were made with the NHTH.

Anyone can become a victim of human trafficking. Knowing the indicators and spotting red flags can help victims get the help they need. Common work and living conditions, poor mental health or abnormal behavior, poor physical health, and lack of control over their life could all be indicators of a potential trafficking situation.

There are many signs that could mean a person is being trafficked, but keep in mind that that every situation is different, and indicators should not be taken as proof trafficking is occurring. If you suspect someone is a victim of trafficking, please contact law enforcement or the NHTH at 888-373-7888.

President Donald Trump and Congress have worked together to make progress in combatting human trafficking. In 2018, the president signed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act into law. This bill gives prosecutors the resources they need to crack down on bad acting websites that help facilitate human trafficking.

Native women and girls are also disproportionately likely to become victims of sex trafficking. In response to this, my colleagues, Reps. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico), Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), Sharice Davids (D-Kansas), and I introduced H.R.2438, the Not Invisible Act.

Our bipartisan bill would establish an advisory committee on violent crime made up of law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal partners, service providers, and survivors to make recommendations to the Department of Interior and Department of Justice and establish best practices for law enforcement on combatting the epidemic of missing persons, murder, and trafficking of Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Additionally, this legislation will ensure that the unique challenges faced by tribal communities are considered when combatting crime, violence, and human trafficking.

While congressional action is a step in the right direction, we all have to come together to fight human trafficking in our communities. Recognizing the signs and alerting authorities can help identify victims and save lives. This month, during National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, let’s work together to end this horrible practice.

Markwayne Mullin, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, was first elected to serve the people of Oklahoma’s Second Congressional District in November 2012. He is currently serving his fourth term in office. Mullin and his wife Christie have six children. The Mullin family currently resides in Westville, Oklahoma, on the same family farm where Markwayne was raised.

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