Indiana lawmakers to study human trafficking

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Human trafficking could be happening down the street, and you might not even know it.

Hubert Nolen, executive director of the Hope Center Indy, said Tuesday of the possibility, “I think it is much larger than people would expect.” 

State lawmakers have decided the topic is worth a summer study.

People at the Hope Center pour their hearts out to help women get out of the grips of human trafficking. A network of resources includes a 25-acre campus with professionals and volunteers who equip women with tools to succeed. 

Nolen said that it’s a safe place “where they can come, stay up to 13 months. Begin to work on their education, begin to work on their trauma recovery.” 

The Hope Center leader said about half the women there were trafficked in Indiana. 

“Incredible pain and hurt that they’ve gone through. Many of the ladies who have been in our program were trafficked by their own family. They get trafficked for drugs, rent money,” Nolan said.

Denise Robinson, the Indiana attorney general’s chief council of investigations, said 283 calls from Indiana came into the National Human Trafficking hotline in 2017. Of those, 93 calls had strong indications of trafficking and 29 came from victims.

Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr. said his office is working with others to help stop trafficking, particularly with young girls.

Hill said, “The average age in the state of Indiana is about 15. That’s consistent with the average age in the country, which is 14. We’re talking about primarily children that are being utilized for sex for money.” 

This summer, Indiana lawmakers will study solutions that include creating a single point of contact for law enforcement during investigations involving a potential victim … and determining if a state agency should oversee the fight to stop human trafficking and create a program to help adult victims. 

The attorney general said, “I’m hoping a summer study topic turns into fall action. We need to get out of the awareness aspect and get into what do we do about it?”

If you or someone you know is being trafficked, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373- 7888 or text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733. People can chat live 24/7 with an advocate at humantraffickinghotline.org/chat.

There are also resources available online from the Indiana attorney general.

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