News
Feb 14, 2012

Kalispell Soroptimists Initiate Statewide Awareness Effort for Minor Domestic Sex Trafficking

Soroptimist International of Kalispell, in conjunction with the Alpha Iota Pi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC), will kick off its statewide campaign to raise awareness of domestic minor sex trafficking February 23 and 24 at the FVCC campus in Kalispell.  The campaign will launch with two showings of the documentary “Sex + Money:  A National Search for Human Worth” that will precede the upcoming “Do You Know Lacy?” community training to take place in April at FVCC.

According to the film’s website, “the 93-minute documentary follows a group of photojournalists as they travel across the United States seeking to understand how the sexual exploitation of children has become the nation’s fastest growing form of organized crime and what can be done about it.”

A trailer of the documentary can be viewed at www.sexandmoneyfilm.com.

“Our hope is that the showing of this powerful, troubling documentary will increase awareness of this very real issue and help motivate viewers to take more practical action like taking advantage of the training in April,” said Diane Yarus, member of the Sorptimist International of Kalispell.

Soroptimist International of Kalispell is a volunteer service organization for business and professional women.  It is dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls in local communities throughout the world.  To support its cause, the organization, in partnership with the Flathead Abolitionist Movement, has commissioned the help of Shared Hope International, a leading organization in a worldwide effort to prevent and eradicate sex trafficking and slavery through education and public awareness.  As part of this effort to raise awareness of the issue in Montana, Shared Hope International will bring its national-level training seminar “Do You Know Lacy?” to Kalispell April 26.  Open to members of all Montana communities, the one-day training will focus on increasing knowledge about domestic minor sex trafficking and teaching strategies to combat, prevent and handle cases in Montana.  Training tracks will be tailored to individual’s specific roles whether involved in law enforcement, social service, or simply a concerned community member.  To register for the “Do You Know Lacy?” training event, visit Shared Hope’s website at www.sharedhope.org.

“We don’t want to believe that this happens in our backyard, but the reality is that it’s happening here, too,” said Yarus.  “We all have the power and responsibility to educate ourselves so we can do something about it and keep our community as safe as possible.”

Columbia Falls Police Department Detective Steve Hughes understands the necessity to train community members and local law enforcement to be better equipped to handle domestic minor sex trafficking issues.

“This training is so important because sex trafficking is happening all over the United States, and it does happen in our Valley and across Montana, too,” said Hughes.  “Just because our state is comprised of rural communities doesn’t mean we’re excluded.”

Hughes blames an increase in recent cases on the simplicity of trafficking minors through the Internet.

“If anything, we’re more on the front line now because the upcoming generation is all about technology,” he said.  “Online, you can buy a car… you can buy a kid.”

The National Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines domestic minor sex trafficking as the “recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act,” where the person is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident under the age of 18 years.

The “Sex + Money:  A National Search for Human Worth” documentary showings will take place February 23 at 2:30 p.m. and February 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the large community meeting room inside the college’s Arts and Technology building.  The movie event will be free and open to the public; however, tax deductible donations to support the Soroptimist International of Kalispell will be accepted.  Refreshments will be for sale to support FVCC’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

For more information about the showing or the upcoming training, contact Yarus at 406-751-2175, or email sikalispell@soroptimist.net.