Soroptomists to host human trafficking awareness event

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Soroptomist International of Whitefish, which aims to improve the lives of women and girls, is hosting a free workshop Tuesday, Jan. 8, in Kalispell, to provide law enforcement, educators, therapists and other professionals, as well as the public, with tools and strategies for eliminating commercial sexual exploitation.

The workshop is being held in recognition of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

According to a press release, there are three primary forms of commercial sexual exploitation: prostitution, pornography and trafficking for sexual purposes, which create “long-term physical, mental and emotional harm to victims and survivors.”

“A community that is disengaged from solving this issue unwittingly contributes to the ongoing abuse,” the press release noted. “Demand [sex buyers] is the fulcrum on which sex trafficking rests. To stop the enterprise, demand must be aggressively addressed.”

The workshop will feature Peter Qualliotine, co-founder of the Organization for Prostitute Survivors, a group dedicated to stopping the harm of commercial sexual exploitations. He has worked for more than three decades to end the epidemic. Qualliotine will spearhead the event, detailing ways the community can collaborate to create and sustain efforts to provide survivor-centered exit services, promote accountability of sex buyers and traffickers and more.

Members of Flathead County’s Human Trafficking Task Force also will discuss local efforts to combat sex trafficking.

The event, to be held at the Flathead Valley Community College, is split into two sessions: 1 to 5p.m. for professionals that is also open to the public, and another from 6 to 7:30 p.m. tailored to the public. For more information, contact Diane Yarus at 751-2175.

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4439 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com.

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