The South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force said during a meeting last week that it continues to work on helping and protecting victims statewide.
The task force and its regional members met in West Columbia on Friday. The membership includes law enforcement, social service agencies, medical services and legal services.
“(We) update the task force members on regional efforts, state-level efforts and really just talk about new services that are being offered to victims in South Carolina,” task force director Kathryn Moorehead said.
Moorehead said the statewide task force has made some progress since its last meeting.
“I think we’ve established some new partnerships. We’ve also been working with folks to develop a standard of care in South Carolina for those providing services to victims and survivors,” she said. “In the last two years we’ve made huge strides in South Carolina. We have gone from one subcommittee that’s a direct services to now 10 –about to have 11–subcommittees. We also just recently launched the Multi-County Regional Task Force out of Aiken and there’s plans to launch a Foothills Regional Alliance Task Force in September.
The group discussed a growing issue of traffickers targeting victims with disabilities, following a recent federal case in South Carolina in which a man with disabilities was forced to work by his trafficker.
“We’re finding that traffickers are targeting individuals with disabilities at a faster and faster pace because they understand the vulnerabilities that come with that,” she said.
Other subjects covered at the meeting: Kathleen Hays with the South Carolina Indian Affairs Commission said the kidnapping of indigenous women as trafficking victims is a nationwide epidemic, free legal services available for victims through a fellowship for South Carolina Legal Services, and progress being made at shelters in Rock Hill for victims through Lily Pad Haven.
The South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force and regional task forces are organized through the South Carolina Attorney General’s office.