ITVAP: Indiana is Heavily Involved in Human Trafficking

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Clinton County Daily News on 06/25/2018 by Ken Hartman

The United Nations defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by improper means such as force, abduction, fraud or coercion for an improper purpose including forced labor or sexual exploitation.

However, the really scary thing about human trafficking is the fact that the Midwest, as well as the state of Indiana, are at or near the top of the list for this type of activity in the United States according to Indiana Trafficking Victims Assistance Program (ITVAP) Region 4 Coalition Coordinator Megan Bow.

“Indiana’s considered ‘The Crossroads of America.’ That’s our state motto,” said Bow. “So, when we’re talking about why it is happening here we have to understand that human trafficking itself is a industry that thrives on the ability to mobilize quickly and quietly in the Midwest because of the access to so many different cities and so many difference states just by interstate access.”

Bow was the guest speaker at an event sponsored by Healthy Communities of Clinton County Coalition held Monday at the Community Schools of Frankfort Administration Center.

Bow said Indianapolis, Chicago, Louisville, Cincinnati and Detroit are all within a half-day drive of each other which allows this industry to thrive at a $150.2 billion rate a year.

Bow added there are 10 industries which are vulnerable to trafficking. They are domestic work, restaurants, sex industry, health and beauty, message parlors, hospitality, construction, forestry, agriculture and door-to-door sales. She also said the biggest trafficker is the immediate family.

Bow said the type of youth populations that are the most vulnerable to trafficking or grooming is runaway and homeless youths; youths in poverty; a family history of abuse, neglect or substance abuse and mental health issues; LGBTQ! youths; along with immigrant and refugee youths. Youths who tell their entire lives on social media are also targeted.

“What we know is that all the work that goes into recruiting and the eventual exploitation, a trafficker can look like anybody,” said Bow. “That someone could be bagging your groceries or it could be someone standing behind you in line at the bank. They are generally not the people portrayed on television or in the media.”

Bow was asked what the most eye-opening part of her presentation that those who attend find hard to believe.

“It goes back to the perception that it’s not happening here,” said Bow. “And, not only is it not happening here, but if it’s happening in the U.S., it’s definitely not happening in the Midwest or in Indiana specifically. That Polaris Project map is so important because it really shows that, yes, it is happening here.”

If you suspect human trafficking or abuse is going on, you can call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-800-5556 or the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-37-37-888.