The local group, “Newton Says No to Human Trafficking” is part of the Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery (NAHT). This volunteer organization was the first, and remains the only, statewide volunteer organization devoted exclusively to ending trafficking in all its forms.
When it began, more than 10 years ago, most Iowans thought trafficking only took place in third world countries, or if domestic trafficking occurred in the USA, it was rare and only happened in large metropolitan cities. The undeniable truth is that both sex and labor trafficking are in Iowa, just as they are in all other states in our country. It is in Iowa’s small towns and our cities. Because Iowa has three major US interstates running through it, north to south and east to west, victims are transported to and from our state to every corner of the nation.
The mission of NAHT is to coordinate Iowa’s solution to end human trafficking and slavery through coalition building, raising awareness, promoting education and advocacy. Here in Jasper County, our local volunteers are working towards those goals.
Specifically, as volunteers, we are presently in the process of raising awareness and educating the hotel/motel industry personnel. We have participated in a three-hour inaugural training and are now contacting the hotel/motel managers and owners in order to schedule on-site employee training. It is important that we all become partners, seeking to rescue victims of trafficking, stop the traffickers, and eliminate the market in which it is carried out, including not allowing hotels or motels in central Iowa to be a safe haven for sex trafficking.
To have the desired impact, we seek 100 percent participation of all hotels/motels in our county. Our local hotel/motel managers are being asked to allow their employees to experience the 40-minute free training that will help everyone realize, recognize and respond to this national crisis.
This should make everyone in Jasper County feel proud, and maybe even a little safer, knowing the hotel/motel industry cares enough to do their part toward ending human trafficking.
Denise Bontrager, Wes Breckenridge, Lynn Keller and Linda Pierce