On Thursday, Jan. 17, at 11 a.m. in the State Capitol Rotunda, Gov. Kim Reynolds will sign a proclamation declaring January as “Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Month.” The Governor has been actively involved in this issue for many years and serves as an honorary board member for the Network Against Trafficking and Slavery.
“The harsh reality is dozens of victims are being trafficked in Iowa every day and most traffickers go undetected and unreported. That’s why we must join together to prevent human trafficking and end this unspeakable crime in our state, nation, and around the world,” stated Gov. Reynolds.
The Governor went on to say, “Having more eyes and ears available in every community can help government officials, educators, social workers, hotel staff, and law enforcement officers respond more effectively. We must let human trafficking victims know that we’re fighting for their freedom and a better way of life.”
Joining Gov. Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg will be Dr. George Belitsos, the board chair of the Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery. Immediately following the proclamation signing, Dr. Belitsos and Gov. Reynolds will present “Outstanding Anti-Trafficking Service Awards” to recognize five Iowans for their commitment to eradicating the crime of sex and labor trafficking. Those five individuals are Teresa Davidson, Joy Fopma, Motor Vehicle Enforcement Chief David Lorenzen, Stephen Patrick O’Meara, and Vanessa McNeal.
“When the Network began 13 years ago, human trafficking was not recognized as a problem in Iowa. Thankfully, that has now changed and the response by Iowa communities and government agencies has greatly increased,” stated Dr. Belitsos.
“The Network is very grateful for the support we have seen from Gov. Reynolds. She continually places a spotlight on this horrible crime, which raises public awareness. Today, we’re asking all Iowans to learn more about trafficking, become aware that it is happening in Iowa, and to report suspicious activity. If you see something, say something.”