INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana House members have passed a resolution authored by State Rep. John L. Bartlett (D-Indianapolis) to recognize January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
The resolution aims to raise awareness of human trafficking and build stronger and safer Hoosier communities.
“Human trafficking is a major public health, human rights, economic justice and social justice issue globally, nationally and statewide in Indiana,” Bartlett said.
Indiana ranked 25th in the nation for the highest reports of human trafficking as of June 2018, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Nearly 60 cases of human trafficking were reported in Indiana last year. Of those cases, 46 were reported to be sex trafficking, 29 cases involved an adult as the victim and the remaining 20 involved minors.
According to the 2016 Indiana State Report on Human Trafficking, 178 trafficked youths were served in 2016 by Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans (IPATH). Girls made up 94 percent of those victims under the age of 21 and 60 percent were Caucasian.
Children are frequently trafficked in Indiana with victims as young as seven years old: 30 percent of victims under the age of 21 are 15 years old or younger and more than 10 percent of minor victims are between the ages of 12 and 14.
Former Kentucky Judge Timothy Nolan pleaded guilty last year to 21 counts of human trafficking and unlawful transaction with a minor dating back to 2004. Nolan forced 19 women to have sex with him in exchange for heroin or threats of eviction over a 10 year period. Seven of the 19 victims were under the age of 16. Noland was sentenced to 20 years in prison as a result of his plea agreement.
“Our babies don’t stand a chance,” Bartlett said. “We need to educate our state on human trafficking and do everything we can to protect our youth.”
This resolution focuses on preventing human trafficking by identifying on the systematic root causes including oppression, violence, and exploitation in Hoosier communities.
“Dedicating January to human trafficking awareness will strengthen Indiana communities by giving Hoosiers an opportunity to stand with victims and survivors of human trafficking and educate each other to better detect warning signs of human trafficking,” Bartlett said.
A second focus of the resolution is to raise awareness of the resources Indiana provides to survivors of human trafficking, including trauma-informed and survivor-centered care and treatment. Indiana has collaborated with local, state and federal organizations including advocacy programs, law enforcement agencies, mental health professionals, medical professionals, and educators to identify, prevent, respond and eliminate human trafficking in Indiana.
The resolution would bring additional awareness to the identification, prevention and treatment of human trafficking in Indiana by encouraging Hoosiers to wear blue on January 31 in honor of victims and survivors of human trafficking.
Joining Bartlett on the resolution were State Reps. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis), Earl L. Harris, Jr. (D-East Chicago), Ragen Hatcher (D-Gary), Carolyn B. Jackson (D-Hammond), Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis), Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis), Vernon G. Smith (D-Gary), and Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis).