Congresswoman Noem Urges Lawmakers To Address Sex Trafficking Issue

Jan 22, 2014

US Congresswoman Kristi Noem is urging state lawmakers to address sex trafficking in South Dakota. Some lawmakers say future legislation could be on its way.

Congresswoman Kristi Noem has focused attention of passing a new farm bill.  But she is turning her attention to the issue of sex trafficking.  Noem says it’s hard for some citizens to accept the reality of the issue.

Congresswoman Kristi Noem speaking during the House Chamber on Wednesday afternoon at the State Capital in Pierre.
Credit Nate Wek / SDPB

"So many times when you talk to people in South Dakota, they look at sex trafficking as an international issue. We think of places as far far away where those nightmares couldn’t possibly happen, but I will tell you we have huge issues of sex trafficking here in South Dakota," the Congresswoman says.

Noem says more people are getting caught and punished for their involvement in sex trafficking. The Congresswoman says lawmakers need harsher penalties. She says victims will see it as a ray of hope.

"Over 300,000 children in this country every year are brought into this sex trafficking industry and people are taking advantage of them. And it’s so difficult to help them recover, to heal and become normal human beings after this has happened in their lives," Noem says.

The Congresswoman is urging lawmakers in South Dakota to do more. Republican State Representative Burt Tulson says he was shocked when he found out about sex trafficking in the state and he agrees, something needs to be done.

"We heard about this a year ago and its been going on at Sturgis and possibly during the hunting season and possibly in Sioux Falls even. (It’s) where they target young students and try to entice them into sex trafficking. So it’s very important the issue that we get resolved so we can get the people who participate in this crime," Representative Tulson says.

Tulson expects to see legislation taking action but he expects a debate over what is the best way to address the issue.