Senator Rand Paul has a new philanthropic political platform. Paul published a blog post on sex trafficking Tuesday on The Huffington Post, detailing the story of Sherri, a young woman abused and sold to men by her father for years. The Kentucky senator used the platform to promote his partnership with a Christian organization in his home state, Refuge For Women, dedicated to helping women who have been trafficked or sexually exploited.
Paul recounts Sherri's life, a woman he met at Refuge For Women's 50-acre farm. She was born into a family that didn't want a daughter and became blind at a young age. Her father repeatedly raped and abused her. When she was a teenager, he began selling her to men who would pay him in cash or drugs. After graduating high school as valedictorian, she received a full-paid scholarship to college, but she still couldn't escape her father. Writes Paul:
The blind little girl with the bouncing curls was now off on her own, finally escaping the dark hell that was all too familiar to her. At least, this should have been her escape.
When she left for college, he threatened to beat, rape, and kill her mother if she didn't come home every weekend to make him money. Sherri began going to church with a friend from school and confided in some women at the church about her situation after they asked about her visible scars. Paul writes:
That same night, the women came to her dorm, gathered all of her stuff, and took her to a safe place -- the first safe place she had ever been -- a 50-acre farm in my home state of Kentucky. This story is almost too horrible to be true, but it is. I can tell you this, because I recently sat across from Sherri while she shared her story.
Paul partnered with Refuge For Women, the safe place Sherri was taken, to start an internship program for sex trafficking victims in his Kentucky office, giving them a chance to start over. A large part of Refuge For Women's appeal for Paul was its Christian-based programs. In the post, he says:
These women are broken physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They need healing in all areas and Christian-based programs have proven to be successful over and over. Refuge for Women provides these women with hope, and the promise that they will be loved unconditionally — a love that most of these women have never experienced.
Paul promises to continue speaking for victims and support harsher punishments for sex trafficking abusers.
I will continue to be a voice for these victims. I will stand up for harsher punishments for their abusers. And, I will partner with organizations like Refuge For Women to give these women a fresh start, and a path towards recovery and redemption.
In 2014, 31 states passed anti-trafficking laws, with the trafficking of children and establishing rehabilitation services the main focus. A new human trafficking law was passed in the House in July, but never made it through the Senate. Representative Ann Wagner of Missouri was one of the bill's main supporters, wanting to make it a federal crime for advertisers to knowingly let sex traffickers sell victims on their websites.
"Trafficking is a serious issue, and it is not limited to Third World countries. It is right here in our homeland," Paul says in the post. According to the Justice Department, 300,000 American children are at risk of being sexually exploited. As well as providing rehabilitation and harsher punishments for abusers, it seems some preventative measures are necessary to keep children from being trafficked.
Images: Getty Images (2)