Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (Getty/Michael B. Thomas)

Missouri Attorney General blames human trafficking on 1960s sexual revolution

"The sexual revolution has led to exploitation of women on a scale that we would never have imagined," Hawley said.


Nicole Karlis
January 31, 2018 11:30PM (UTC)

Josh Hawley, attorney general for the state of Missouri and reportedly a “top Republican” prospect for the November state Senate race according to the Kansas City Star, is facing scrutiny for strange statements he made regarding sex trafficking.

Hawley, a Republican and a vehement supporter of Donald Trump — as a glance at his Twitter timeline reveals — reportedly said that sex trafficking, his office’s new area of focus, was a result of the 1960s sexual revolution. The Kansas City Star reported on the shocking claim after obtaining audio of the attorney general’s speech at an event hosted by the Missouri Renewal Project, a religious organization.

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Here’s what Hawley said, according to The Star:

“We have a human trafficking crisis in our state and in this city and in our country because people are willing to purchase women, young women, and treat them like commodities. There is a market for it. Why is there? Because our culture has completely lost its way. The sexual revolution has led to exploitation of women on a scale that we would never have imagined, never have imagined,”

“We must ... deliver a message to our culture that the false gospel of ‘anything goes’ ends in this road of slavery. It ends in the slavery and the exploitation of the most vulnerable among us. It ends in the slavery and exploitation of young women.”

Human trafficking is indeed an issue in the state of Missouri. According to statistics published by the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Missouri had the 16th highest reported human trafficking cases reported. However, it seems preposterous to link sex trafficking to what Hawley refers to as “the sexual revolution." Hawley’s conspiratorial, hyper-conservative remarks are disconcerting, to say the least.

The umbrella term "human trafficking" refers not just to sex trafficking, but also labor trafficking and child soldiery, according to the Freedom First Federation. Thus, to make the claim that human trafficking is related to the sexual revolution is simply not true.

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According to the Freedom First Federation there are many causes of human trafficking — including poverty, economic inequality, war and political upheaval, and marginalization.

The Blue Campaign, a collaborative anti–human trafficking initiative led by the Department of Homeland Security, says that human trafficking is generally economically motivated, and often occurs because it is a “highly profitable crime.” If Hawley were truly interested in understanding the origins of human trafficking, he could go online and look at the Department of Homeland Security's website that debunks “myths and misconceptions” about human trafficking.

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Nicole Karlis

Nicole Karlis is a news writer at Salon. She covers health, science, tech and gender politics. Tweet her @nicolekarlis.

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