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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined her colleagues on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to attend an Oversight Hearing on “The GAO Reports on Human Trafficking of American Indian and Alaska Natives in the United States”. The hearing focused on the impacts of human trafficking of American Indians and Alaska Natives, what we can do as a nation to prevent human trafficking and combat this issue in all its forms, and how to better provide support for victims.
During her opening statement, Senator Murkowski cited a recent multi-city study on human-trafficking that Covenant House of Alaska participated in that demonstrates 1 in 4 homeless youth in Anchorage were victims of human trafficking, of which 42 percent were Alaska Natives.
“As I look to the issue we have before us, this is something that is as dark and evil and as insidious as anything that’s out there. I’d like to think that sometimes our geography allows us to be far enough away that we are away from the scourge and the evil. And yet, I’m just reminded that sometimes we are so far away that they can get away with it. And that cannot be allowed. We must make sure that the light is shown brightly on this and work to eradicate this.”
Murkowski emphasized the importance of taking preventative steps to end human trafficking and protecting Alaska Native populations through collecting better data, developing victim assistance programs for those who have been trafficked, addressing the lack of training amongst health and law professionals, and ending youth homelessness.
“Human trafficking in Alaska is a devastating reality that is felt across the state. One of the biggest hurdles we see in Alaska is educating the public, both for those at risk of being trafficked and those trying to rescue those who have been trafficked. It is difficult to find the resources to go into villages and educate individuals on how to protect themselves from trafficking. I plan to work closely with my colleagues in this committee to address human trafficking and the related factors to put an end to this devastating issue.”