State Reps. Melissa Shusterman, Christina Sappey and Kristine Howard invite constituents to their online panel to bring awareness to human trafficking, with an emphasis on how it can happen anywhere, and to teach people how to identify trafficking situations.

The discussion will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 30. A livestream will be available on each of the three representatives’ websites.

Anyone who wishes to participate in the discussion by emailing questions to be answered live must RSVP online at https://www.pahouse.com/Shusterman/RSVP/?id=1264. Upon submitting an RSVP, the office will send instructions on where to submit questions and introduce the panelists.

The three Democratic lawmakers said that they wanted to shed light on this issue after the recent arrests of three Malvern residents for abducting and trafficking a 14-year-old girl. Additionally, the United Nations recognizes July 30 as World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

“Human trafficking happens in every state throughout the nation, yet many people think it doesn’t happen in their neighborhood,” Shusterman said. “Predators often times exploit these feelings of safety and security, which result in tragic, traumatizing losses. We all need to do our part and learn how every one of us can help to shut down these sex trafficking rings that so often target Pennsylvania’s women and girls.”

“The issue of human trafficking is so deeply troubling. I learned more than anyone would ever want to know on this dark topic while working on the original Senate legislation back in 2013. While I was pleased that we were able to pass S.B. 75 and make human trafficking a prosecutable offense, we had to strip several meaningful provisions of the bill in order to get it done,” Sappey said. “Today, sex and labor trafficking still occur and in larger numbers than we can imagine. Most people in Chester County find this hard to believe, but the recent arrests in Malvern illustrate the prevalence of this sinister trade right here in our communities. Much work to end human trafficking remains for us to do, and I hope this discussion will push the topic back up front."

“The news that a sex trafficking ring was operating in Malvern was a shock to many in our area. How could such a heinous crime happen in our own backyard, under our noses?” Howard said. “Now more than ever, we have to train ourselves to recognize the signs of human trafficking so we can prevent these crimes from occurring.”

For more information, contact your representative’s office:

• Shusterman: (484) 200-8260 or RepShusterman@pahouse.net.

• Sappey: (484) 200-8264 or RepSappey@pahouse.net.

• Howard: (610) 251-1070 or RepHoward@pahouse.net.

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