(NETWORK INDIANA) Slavery still exists in America. It’s not for building cities or working in fields, but it still robs people of their dignity and humanity. It’s called human trafficking. Since 2007, at least 400 people have been rescued from human trafficking in Indiana.
“I think we tend to think more about children getting caught up in human trafficking,” said state Rep. Sharon Negele (R-Attica). “Once they become an adult it seems like there’s less emphasis.”
Today (Wednesday), the General Assembly’s Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code is meeting at the Statehouse to discuss ways to help law enforcement combat human trafficking, said Negele. While the legislature wants to help anyone who ends up in that situation, the concentration Wednesday will be on adults.
“How can we do a better job on helping adults who are caught up in human trafficking,” said Negele. “If a child is in the middle of human trafficking and the police make a bust and they find this child, they’re able to immediately funnel this child into the Child Service program.
But, there is no agency for adults, said Negele.
“What we really have to examine is what are the pros and cons of having some kind of agency that would deal specifically with the adults that are caught up in this type of scenario.”
Negele said the committee will look at whether a new agency should be created or whether an existing agency could absorb those service. The main goal would be to help a person get out of that situation and to be able to transition back to every day life.
She said the committee will also look into changing the reporting laws for medical professionals.
“The way we had it set up is that they were required by law to report that they suspect that this is human trafficking. That would create some fear and the individual would not go to the doctor’s office,” said Negele. That’s because people who are essentially sex slaves are many times very afraid of their captors.
“What we’re trying to do is to make it so we eliminate that kind of reporting, but offer additional information so the health practitioner helps provide ways and avenues to get out of the trafficking situation,” said Negele.
She said there were 93 human trafficking cases reported in 2017, and 283 calls to the human trafficking hotline.