(Image: Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune)
On Wednesday, Senator Orrin Hatch joined Tim Ballard, founder of O.U.R., at Younique Foundation Headquarters in Lehi, Utah, to discuss prevention against child sex trafficking. Joining them was Chris Yadon, founder of Younique Foundation, and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. Together they will be working to empower and expand law enforcement tools.
Ballard provided an update to when he testified and helped pass the International Megan’s Law (HR515), in May 2015 to limit sex crimes domestically and internationally. Regarding the passing of the law, he stated, “[it] is such an important bill that has passed, but it has not been implemented or funded yet which is why we are making it a priority. It’s sole purpose is to protect children from being exploited.”
“This is really an epidemic that is totally wrong,” Hatch said. “Of all the criminal activity I’ve seen in my years in the United States Senate and before as an attorney, I’ve never seen anything more despicable, more rotten or dirty or terrible than child sex trafficking.”
Operation Underground Railroad has conducted 76 rescue operations since its founding in 2014, with over 650 victims rescued and 270 traffickers arrested. “Our problem is their problem. Their problem is our problem. It’s an international problem,” Ballard said.
Upon viewing O.U.R.’s documentary The Abolitionists last year, Hatch said, “O.U.R. is a powerful force for good in the fight against child sex trafficking. Across the world, the organization has liberated hundreds of children from the hell they were lured into by evil and designing men. As you will see, Tim is at the forefront of O.U.R.’s mission, leading sting operations in countries and continents across the globe. He is a hero in every sense of the word. I wish to thank Tim for his courage, his service, and his sacrifice.”
This partnership stands as a reminder to all, that it is necessary for a diverse influence of forces to unite in order to rescue the millions of exploited children from the darkness. The union of hearts and minds from varied parts of the political and private spectrums carves the way to eliminate the odds. The harsh reality is that victims will not be saved without the light from the neighbor or the legislator, the donor or the rescuer; resources and strengths that a private sector cannot accomplish alone.
“There is much darkness in this world as we all know. Tim and his team see this every day,” Hatch said. “Today, our focus is not on darkness, but on light. Our focus is on the great work these organizations are doing to help others overcome the darkness and reclaim hope.”