One by One
Mizzou alumna works to end sex trafficking in Kansas City.
In between bumps, sets and spikes at a recent volleyball tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, Jessica Kihn Mauderer had a hard job to do. Mauderer, BS BA ’04, played club volleyball while attending Mizzou, and she wanted to win the game just as much as the player next to her. But the goal of the tournament was to increase awareness of sex trafficking and raise money to provide services for the illegal industry’s victims.
“It’s a taboo topic that nobody wants to talk about,” Mauderer says. Sex trafficking, as defined by the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where such an act is induced by force, fraud or coercion. There are an estimated 29.8 million adults and children worldwide who are forced into sex servitude. In Missouri, more than 4,000 children fall victim to commercial sexual exploitation, and nearly 1,700 of those children are victimized in the Kansas City area.
Mauderer has volunteered with the Kansas City nonprofit One by One Project since it become a nonprofit in January 2012. Through awareness, education and victim services programs, the organization works to end sex trafficking and help its victims. Mauderer, who works in financial services in Overland Park, Kansas, had limited knowledge of trafficking until her friend and One by One founder Andrea Shelton asked for her help. “I didn’t think it was happening here in Kansas City,” Mauderer says.
Now, in addition to her full-time job, Mauderer volunteers with One by One nearly 15 hours a week, planning awareness events and educational programs. “Even though we’ve been doing this for three years, every day we talk to someone who doesn’t know about trafficking,” she says. But it happens at venues across the city, from fake massage businesses to strip clubs to truck stops.
Ending sex trafficking can seem like a daunting goal, but Mauderer says the project’s mission is to help just one person. “If we can help one person, we can change one community.”