Lawmakers who oppose abortion and seek to reduce its frequency are often derided as “anti-woman” or unconcerned about children after birth. Yet the person leading the charge against sex trafficking in Oklahoma is state Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa. The values that cause Peterson to fight for the unborn also compel her to tackle this most vile and repugnant of crimes.
The torture and dismemberment of 19-year-old Carina Saunders in Bethany is the most high-profile human trafficking case in Oklahoma. But it's hardly the only one. Because we're at the crossroads of three interstate highways, Oklahoma is a prime destination for human traffickers. Ten percent of juveniles recovered as the result of a nationwide child sex-trafficking investigation this summer were in Oklahoma City.
Jeannetta McCrery recently told state lawmakers her personal story of long-term abuse and rape that started when she was kidnapped at age 11. She described being raped multiple times every day. After a failed escape attempt, McCrery said she was stabbed 36 times with ice picks.
Law enforcement officials are seeking increased wiretap authority, tougher penalties for human traffickers, more services for child victims and a law requiring convicted human traffickers to register as sex offenders.
Law enforcement officials believe the average age of entry into prostitution is 12 to 14, and that girls are subjected to 15 to 20 sexual contacts per day. Those figures should enrage us. Yet because human trafficking is so abominable and repulsive, many politicians choose to focus on other issues. In that way, trafficking is much like abortion: The gritty reality of both is undergirded with horror.
For proving “pro-life” is more than a checkbox on her campaign mailers, Peterson deserves respect. For her efforts to combat child traffickers and save exploited children in the direst circumstances, she deserves our strongest support.