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In Indianapolis, standing up to human trafficking

In Indianapolis, standing up to human trafficking

From the sexual-slavery eradication project Shared Hope International, a grim reminder about what also happens other than the Big Game when folks gather to celebrate their teams.

Pimp-controlled commercial sexual exploitation of children is linked to escort and massage services, private dancing, drinking and photographic clubs, major sporting and recreational events, major cultural events, conventions, and tourist destinations.

Sporting event, convention and concert attendees are a target market for commercial sex venues. Advertisement cards are handed out to attendees promising VIP treatment at the various “Gentlemen’s Clubs” and discount entry cards are distributed at sporting events, concerts and other events. Additionally, hotel’s courtesy guest shuttles have been observed providing transportation for guests to strip clubs, further facilitating the commercial sex market.

Barb Boerggoetz of The Indianapolis Star writes that although Indianapolis and the Super Bowl certainly do not form exceptions, thanks to help from some groups of women religious (in particular the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Jospeh in La Grange Park, Tipton, Indiana and Kalamazoo, Michigan), attacking the problem might lead to less pervasive practice.

From La Grange Suburban Life:

Hotels in the Indianapolis area are better equipped to recognize and help victims of human trafficking thanks to an initiative launched before Sunday’s Super Bowl by a group of 11 orders of Catholic nuns, including those in La Grange Park, in collaboration with state and local officials and organizations.

Among them were members of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in La Grange Park, Tipton, Ind., and Kalamazoo, Mich.

Of the 220 hotels that the women contacted, 200 hotel mangers provided responses to questions asked by members of the religious orders. As a result of these phone calls, seven hotels requested training prior to the Super Bowl to help their employees recognize trafficking situations and how to assist victims.

“We are very gratified by the responses from hotel managers and pleased that they made time to talk and work with us in this very busy season,” said Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Ann Oestreich, co-chair of the Coalition for Corporate Responsibility for Indiana and Michigan.

A few facts mentioned in Boerggoetz’s article:

  • Human trafficking (sex and labor) is tied as the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world, just behind the arms trade.
  • $32 billion is generated annually by the human-trafficking industry.
  • About 75 to 80 percent of human trafficking is for sex.
  • Nationally, 2,515 investigations into trafficking were opened by Department of Justice Anti-Trafficking Task Force from 2008 to 2010, including 239 in the Midwest; 76 of those were opened by Indiana law enforcement or service providers.
  • The average age children are first used/manipulated into prostitution is 12 to 14 years old.

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Ann Fontaine

Thanks to the Sisters of St Joseph for their proactive work — hope all hotels will train their staffs to recognize the evil in their midst. Maybe there could be a certificate so travelers would know the hotel is working against trafficking.

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