Elle Magazine: Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Lisa Murkowski Introduce Bill to Combat Human Trafficking of Native Americans and Alaska Natives

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), who has long worked on behalf of sex trafficking survivors, has just introduced a new bill with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would establish an advisory committee to combat human trafficking of Native Americans and Alaskan Natives. The End Trafficking of Native Americans Act's proposed committee would include local law enforcement, tribal leaders, advocacy organizations, and at least one Native American survivor of human trafficking who could make recommendations to the DOI and the DOJ. It would also develop practices for law enforcement and tribes to identify victims and share information on trafficking between agencies.

"I have seen firsthand how factors including violence and historical trauma put Native Americans and Alaska Natives at an increased risk of trafficking," Cortez Masto said in a statement to ELLE.com. "This bill will help coordinate investigation and prosecution efforts between federal agencies and will strengthen partnerships between the federal government, tribal leaders, law enforcement and victim advocates."

A 2016 report from the National Institute of Justice shows that 56.1 percent of American Indian or Alaska Native women experience sexual violence in their lifetime. Lucy Simpson, executive director of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, said that while it's known human trafficking has had a devastating effect on tribal communities, there has been a lack of understanding at how to best address it.

"Human trafficking is as evil and vile an issue as any other that’s out there," Senator Murkowski said in a statement provided to ELLE.com. "It is a shocking reality that is felt deeply across the state of Alaska, impacting the Alaska Native population in devastating proportion."

The committee would also be tasked with recommending if a federal study on human trafficking of Native Americans and Alaska Natives is required.

By:  Madison Heller
Source: ELLE Magazine