KNOX COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – Wednesday marks National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Human trafficking is a crime that affects 27 million people around the world. 48% of these victims are children.
A crime often described as slavery is the reality for hundreds of victims in Indiana.
“Domestic human trafficking is a lot different than what you see on TV,” said Hope’s Voice Director, Melissa Haaff.
Human trafficking violates the most basic human rights.
Traffickers will often befriend these victims and then use them to get money or drugs, according to the Indiana state report.
Many of the victims are sold for sex.
“Once they are in a trafficking situation they can be sold up to fifteen times a day or more,” said Haaff.
2016 marked the first time Indiana was able to collect and report information regarding this crime happening within the state.
The numbers are chilling. Nearly 200 children were trafficked this past year alone. One in every three of cases are children 15-years-old or younger.
“Big events tend to heighten traffickers and we have a lot of big events here in Indiana,” said Haaff.
According to Haaff, Indiana is a hot spot for human trafficking.
That can be linked to large events like the Indy 500 and the 2012 Super Bowl hosted in Indianapolis.
Traffickers benefit from these large crowds to both sell and recruit victims of trafficking.
“When those arrests are made, when those cases are made in larger cities, then counties like Knox County or other small counties, they hear about it and they get to think about it,” said Knox County prosecutor, Dirk Carnahan.
It’s a crime Prosecutor Carnahan says local law enforcement are ready to combat.
“If it does come here we’re prepared to investigate, we’re prepared to prosecute and we’re prepared to take care of the victims to make sure it doesn’t become a problem here,” said Carnahan.
For a local hotline, you can contact Hope’s Voice 24-hour crisis line at (812) 899-4673 for support, advocacy, information, referrals, safety planning, legal advocacy, referral for temporary food and housing services.
The Council for Domestic Abuse in Terre Haute is also available for help. Their hotline is (800) 566-2632.
For anyone in the United States, help can also be reached at the National Human Trafficking Resource Center here: 1 (888) 373-7888.
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