MANHATTAN, KS. (KSNT) – The city of Manhattan is shining a light on human trafficking in Kansas. The city mayor and members of a local club with international ties teamed up to give a special declaration on Tuesday night.

In the City of Manhattan’s city commission meeting on Jan. 18, several members of the Rotary Club in Kansas came forward to help raise awareness regarding human trafficking issues in the state. They were joined by Manhattan’s mayor, Linda Morse, who began reading a proclamation.

“Whereas each year, thousands of men, women and children are victims of modern day slavery and deprived of their freedom, their human rights and their dignity,” Morse said. “Trafficking takes the form of forced labor, sex trafficking, child soldiers and involuntary forced domestic servitude.”

Morse went on to say that the U.S. Department of Justice identified Kansas as an originating state for human trafficking and that it is important to raise awareness of factors contributing to sex trafficking.

“Kansas is in a place to stop more traffickers than ever before and give the victims of this heinous crime the assistance they need and deserve,” Morse said.

The mayor then issued the following declaration:

“I Linda Morse, mayor of the City of Manhattan, do hereby proclaim the month of January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Month in the City of Manhattan and encourage all of our citizens to become more informed of this growing problem. To be vigilant and report suspicious activity and to work towards solutions to end trafficking in all forms in our community. If you see something that doesn’t look right, take action and call the National Human Trafficking Hotline.”

Vern Hendricks, the district governor of the Rotary Club out of Overland Park, also had a few words to share. He emphasized the importance of Kansas residents helping combat human trafficking by contacting organizations like the Homestead Ministry in Manhattan which helps women who are 18 years or older who are survivors of the sex trafficking industry.

“We also have another young lady in Manhattan that actually is in Haiti in mission work where she is helping young Haitian boys try to avoid the trafficking business,” Hendricks said. “So this is a worldwide problem, Rotary has certainly taken it on itself but I’m proud of our community of Manhattan. I’m certainly proud of these individuals in the club for their efforts and you will probably hear more and more as we move forward through the years.”

The Rotary Club has many different branches in the state of Kansas alone. The club focuses on providing humanitarian service and to advance peace and goodwill across the world. To find out more about the Manhattan branch, check out their website. To learn more about the international Rotary Club, go to their website here.

For more information about human trafficking in Kansas, visit Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s website here. Resources on human trafficking and how you can help put a stop to it can be found there.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there were 10,583 human trafficking cases reported in 2020, 89 of which came from Kansas.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline can be contacted at 1-888-373-7888 or text INFO or HELP to BeFree (233733) to access help and services. The hotline is available 24/7, seven days a week and in 170 languages. Calls made to the hotline are confidential and anonymous.

“Human trafficking is not limited to big cities,” Morse said. “We have people disappear every day in our small towns so it is a problem and we have to begin the work, or keep the work, I know you’ve begun a long time ago, but each of us has to do what we can.”