|Updated: 6/26/2012 5:25 pm
||Published: 6/26/2012 5:13 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas is now considered one of the worst states at protecting victims of human trafficking and a group of lawmakers believe stronger legislation could change that ranking.
Experts say a majority of human trafficking in Arkansas happens along Interstate 40.
Kathy Bryan telling legislators today it happened to her as a teenager when she met a man in the neighborhood she grew up in.
"They look normal and they know what kind of girl to look for. I wasn't special," Bryan says. "There were several homes. I couldn't tell you how to get there, but I could tell you what they look like."
Legislators are looking at strengthening human trafficking laws and there is work to do according to a group dedicated to ending sex slavery.
Shared Hope International gave Arkansas an "F" for laws too weak at combating human trafficking, especially towards minors.
"For me and for other people who are sex slaves or just slaves period, they stole my freedom," Bryan says. "It breaks your spirit, it breaks your soul. There is no shame in the world like the shame you feel. They take your identity from you, you're nothing but a thing."
State representative David Meeks (R-Conway) hopes to push for a tougher law next year and feels firsthand accounts will help the legislature act.
"A lot of people don't want to believe that it's happening here in Arkansas. So I hope the testimony today hopefully hit home," Meeks says.
There is a human trafficking law on the books passed in 2005 but prosecutors say it's never been used because it's not strong enough.