Human trafficking is an epidemic


The United Nations recently updated their statistics to reflect a 24% increase of World-Wide Human Trafficking Victims from 40 million to now 50 million in just the past five years. This horrific crime continues to grow unrestricted.

Iowa is also impacted and experiencing increased victims being entrapped in Human Trafficking.

There are 320 Iowa resident victims being trafficked 24/7 365 days a year. Do you know any of them?

On Jan. 12, Govenor Kim Reynolds reaffirms Iowa’s dedication to fighting human trafficking by signing a proclamation declaring January to be Salvery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Our West Liberty City Council and Mayor Ethan Anderson has also signed a Proclamation declaring January as Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in West Liberty.

At the state capital in Des Moines as Govenor Reynolds reaffirmed Iowa’s position on this crime, she also recognized five individuals with Outstanding Anti-Trafficking Service Awards. They were: Alka Kanolkar, Rotary District Govenor 2021/22 who created action teams to fight human trafficking and led the Resolution 21R-28 which Rotary Internatonal adopted to fight human trafficking world wide; Tish Young, Cedar Rapids for her work with Chains Interrupted; Sister Shirley Finfran of LiLa Mae’s House for Surviors of human trafficking; Melody Stone for creating North Coalition Against Human Trafficking in Northern Iowa and Leland Schipper of North High School, Des Moines for his work with human trafficking victims.

The Rotary Club of West Liberty has been working to prevent human trafficking in our community since 2017. They have had the support of Braking Traffik, a Division of Family Resources of Davenport, in introducing training and education. They have presented in public forums, local youth in the Christian Youth Group of First United Church and St. Joseph’s Church and the Latino community at the Fiesta Latina Celebration. Braking Traffik and Rotary are asking our West Liberty Community School District permission to bring education and prevention training to our middle and high school students.

Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery (INAHT) is actively working to have a Safe Harbor Law passed by our State Legislators. A Safe Harbor Law would help protect a minor (under 18 yrs) trafficked individual from prosecution for offenses commited while being trafficked.

Iowa currently joins 23 states that still criminalize children for prostitution, 34 states that still allow children to be charged and prosecuted for other non-violent crimes or trafficking charges that resulted from their trafficking victimization, and 42 states that still do not allow child sex trafficking victims, like Pieper Lewis, to assert a defense to violent felony charges that arose from trafficking victimization.

We as a country have a long way to go to recognize, in our laws and within our judicial system, the harm that is caused by continuing to treat victims of trafficking as criminals while ignoring the impact of their victimization.

For more information, please contact Tom Barr of the West Liberty Rotary Club ( or Gretchen M. at Braking Traffik: 563-468-2384.

Tom Barr

Rotary Club of West Liberty member