That’s why Attorney General Daniel Cameron visited an organization in Lexington that targets what is often the root of the problem – prostitution.
“Prostitution is something that they’re engaging in. It’s not who they are,” Jani Lewis said, executive director of Natalie’s Sisters. “It’s something that’s befallen them as they try to survive through life.”
Natalie’s Sisters is a non-profit that helps women involved in prostitution and the adult entertainment industry. It serves as a one-stop for people in need of clothing, food, resources to help them in a harmful situation – a shoulder to lean on.
“We have been fortunate to see a lot of change over the last several years,” Lewis said. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of women that are coming through our doors.”
Lewis says last year alone, more than 300 women came to the center.
Cameron recently launched a statewide campaign against human trafficking. He says he learned some things during his visit.
“Having this conversation helps me better understand,” Cameron said. “I can better articulate it to folks who, perhaps, might look with a jaundice view of these sorts of situations.”
Lexington Police Sergeant Brian Martin says he’s grateful for the partnership with Natalie’s Sisters.
“We can’t arrest ourselves out of this situation. That’s not going to happen,” Martin said. “Instead of taking a stance where I’m just pointing out the illegal behavior of a person, I can now direct them to a place that wants to help them get better.”
In addition to perspective, Cameron said he now has an idea of what is needed to help at the grassroots level – simple things like transportation, child care and ID cards.
“These are sensitive topics,” Cameron said. “What we have to say as a community, as a commonwealth, that we’re willing to tackle them, we’re willing to address them. 2021 is the year to do it.”
If you, or someone you know, is a victim of human trafficking you can call the national hotline at 888-373-7888.