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Wisconsin human trafficking task force focus on victims

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(The Center Square) – The beginning of Wisconsin’s new task force on human trafficking is coming with a warning.

Lawmakers on Wednesday held the first meeting of House Speaker Robin Vos’ Task Force On Human Trafficking, and while the group said the focus will be on victims, it will also delve into the details of the trafficking of children and other young people.

“We will learn during the course of these hearings some very disturbing information and very disturbing trends,” Rep Scott Johnson, R-Jefferson, told reporters at the capitol. “It’s culture taking advantage of itself for its own gratification and enrichment.”

Vos created the Task Force at the end of August.

Rep. Jerry O’Connor, R-Fond du Lac, said the task force was inspired by the movie Sound of Freedom, which tells a story about a federal agent’s investigation into human trafficking.

“I will say that we will talk about human trafficking primarily from the sex trafficking perspective, however labor trafficking is also a big issue that parallels this all along the way.”

Rep. Jodi Emerson, D-Eau Claire, said Wisconsin has some work to do with its human trafficking laws, and its human trafficking focus.

“Shared Hope International has issued Wisconsin an F grade when it comes to our laws surrounding child sex trafficking,” Emerson said. “Wisconsin has not just failed the victims of child sex trafficking, but we failed the numerous adult sex trafficking victims and countless victims of labor trafficking across our state we need to do better,”

Wisconsin’s Department of Justice also has a human trafficking task force, but O’Connor said that’s focused on the law enforcement side. He said the Vos’ task force is focused on what new laws may be needed.

“And we believe that together we can bring our ideas to the table and come up with solutions that will help make a difference in the outcome of the people involved in sex trafficking,” O’Connor said.

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