first_img The first comprehensive report on human trafficking in the State was released today by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller who states the report provides a baseline for the state to track the issue in a measurable way going forward, and to have a roadmap to address the special needs of trafficked victims.Zoeller has been the co-chair of the Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans (IPATH) Task Force since 2009 and has worked with Indiana Trafficking Victim Assistance Program, Department of Child Services and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney Council in 2016 to track service to victims, tips and arrests. In 2014, the task force collaborated with the University of Indianapolis to conduct an assessment to estimate the prevalence of trafficking from service providers who work with high risk youth in Indiana.Along with the report Zoeller released this statement: “We have made considerable progress in raising public awareness but we still have a great deal of work to do to protect young children from this horrific crime.  Change can only occur when we recognize that children as young as 7 and 8 years old don’t turn into prostitutes when they turn 18, they continue to be victims.  They’ve been preyed upon, intimidated, brainwashed and often drugged by adults who profit off of selling another human being.  Let’s all stand up and stop the demand for commercial sex.”Human trafficking is a rapidly growing crime in Indiana with 178 trafficked youth identified and served in 2016 alone. The majority of those identified are sex trafficking victims and 30% are age 15 or younger. Further, the task force experienced a 4 times increase in human trafficking tips in the last two years.Since 2012, the Indiana General Assembly has passed several laws to enhance penalties against and addressing human trafficking with the support of Zoeller.  Additionally, IPATH and partner organizations have trained more than 40,000 first responders, and law enforcement on identifying victims of sex trafficking.“I believe the more we talk about this crime and address it head-on, the more progress we will make in prosecutions of those guilty of seeking out minors for sex, and in reducing the demand for this illicit activity,” Zoeller added.  “As a society we must come together and support those who need the most assistance, and the more we focus on how to give victims a voice to speak out, the more progress we will make.”The report provides an overview of the activities of IPATH, the Attorney General’s Office and others in the fight against human trafficking for the past several years and provides legislative recommendations and next steps for advocacy groups which include:·         Expand Financial Resources and Services for Trafficking Victims in Indiana·         Increase Data Collection and Sharing·         Create a plan of action for addressing trafficking of adults in Indiana·         Create an alternative human trafficking/prostitution court option for persons arrested as adults for prostitution offenses or who have suffered as victims of sex trafficking.A copy of the report can be found here.Zoeller thanked Chief Counsel and Deputy Attorney General Abigail Kuzma as author of this report, along with the numerous other individuals and organizations that assisted in gathering and providing the relevant information.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img

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