INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 6, 2016)– Many people are uncomfortable talking about commercial sex and human trafficking, but they’re happening in our community, including Hamilton County and throughout the State of Indiana. That’s according to Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office.
“I mean you’re really talking about the purchasing of another human being,” said Zoeller at a press conference for the Hamilton County’s Sexual Assault Response Team training program today. “As much as we want to promote Hoosier hospitality, we’re a very welcoming community. There are certain things that we’re just not going to tolerate in Indiana.”
Back in 2011, the Attorney General’s office says they prosecuted one case of human trafficking. In 2015, that number went up to four cases, with ten more pending. The uptick, they say, is due to awareness and increased reporting.
“It’s something that we don’t want to talk about and it’s scary to look at, but it’s happening in our own backyard,” said Michelle Corrao, assistant director of PREVAIL, an organization advocating for victims of crime and abuse.
Zoeller’s initiatives to rid Indiana of human trafficking include awareness around sexual assault and child pornography. Law enforcement and domestic abuse organizations are backing his efforts, adding that teens are the most at-risk group.
“Education is the most powerful thing that we can offer our teens,” said Corrao. “They don’t realize what that looks like or that it’s even happening.”
The press conference and training program seemed to resonate with the mandated responders in attendance. Many of these responders deal with teenagers every day.
“I work with a lot of youth and families who have trauma backgrounds and I feel information is knowledge,” said Amy Duncan, who works with Aspire Indiana, a non-profit mental health center. “It makes you think of questions to ask.”
According to the State Department, more than 27 million people are victims of some kind of human trafficking. If you are aware of a human trafficking situation, you are encouraged to call the national hotline (888) 373-3888 or 911.