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Efforts begin to toughen human trafficking laws before Super Bowl

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In 2012, Indianapolis will host its first Super Bowl. As businesses eagerly prepare to reap the profits that come along with the influx of fans, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is preparing for the worst.

Zoeller is pushing for legislation that will increase the scope of Indiana’s human trafficking laws in an effort to crack down on adults who profit from child prostitution. A draft of the revisions to Indiana Code 11-8-8-4.5 and I.C. 35-42-3.5-1 was presented to the Criminal Code Evaluation Commission on Oct. 19, and Zoeller aims to rush the proposed changes through the Legislature before the big game comes to town.

kuzma-abigail-mug Kuzma

Human rights advocates see this initiative as a step in the right direction, while some people have scoffed at the assertion that human trafficking is a problem associated with the Super Bowl, or that it’s even a problem in the United States. But the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that more than 500 people fell prey to human traffickers between 2008 and 2010, the majority of them children. Even more surprising to some people – the majority of them were born and raised in this country.

Understanding trafficking

Indiana Deputy Attorney General Abigail Kuzma said that human trafficking is not a problem specific to the Super Bowl.

“It’s any large event – just to be really frank about it – where you have a number of men who are looking for a party,” Kuzma said. But the Super Bowl presents a prime opportunity for the attorney general’s office to draw attention to the problem.

A study, conducted by Richard Estes and Neil Alan Weiner of the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work Center for the Study of Youth Policy, reported that on average, most females who work as prostitutes begin doing so between the ages of 12 and 14. The study reports that while pedophiles are the most likely to sexually exploit children, a group the study called “transient males” – which includes truck drivers, members of the military, seasonal workers and convention attendees – is the second-most likely to sexually exploit children.

Carollann Braum, who earned her LLM in International Human Rights Law from the University of Notre Dame Law School, said that the public may not understand that some females are coerced or forced into prostitution.

“You can have prostitutes or sex workers who are there voluntarily on their own free will, and then you can have trafficking victims side-by-side,” she said. “It’s difficult because human trafficking has to be determined on a case-by-case basis.”

Kuzma said many victims of trafficking may not self-identify as victims, especially if they were lured into prostitution at a young age. They tend to share characteristics that make them easier to control – like having broken relationships with their families, drug habits or, in the case of women and children who are brought in from other countries, the inability to speak the language or know where to turn for help.

“It’s important for people to know that it is happening right here, right now,” Kuzma said. “We have identified victims, we have rescued victims. And I think people are just shocked … we’re not talking about people being chained in rooms necessarily – although that has happened. You can manipulate someone very effectively with fear,” she said.

Prevention

In 2010, Christian Brothers Investment Services, an investment firm for Catholic institutions, issued a call to action for hotels in South Africa prior to the FIFA World Cup. CBIS urged hotels to educate hotel workers about the signs of human trafficking and to sign “The Code” – a pledge that travel and tourism companies can adopt to demonstrate opposition to human trafficking. Hotels may be havens for traffickers who try to isolate their victims from the public as much as possible.

On Oct. 5, federal investigators assumed control of a case in California where a couple allegedly had forced three females – two 16-year-olds and one 19-year-old – to work as prostitutes in a South San Francisco hotel. The captives were discovered after a tipster alerted police to a possible runaway staying at the hotel.

Kuzma said that hotels can help play a role in identifying victims, and that’s why the attorney general’s office hopes to do more to educate hotels about the signs of human trafficking.

“We are hoping to be able to set up training with hotel workers. They already are going to have a little bit of training on a kind of written Internet level that we drafted earlier,” she said. “We would like to do much more than that.”

Kuzma said hotel workers, taxi drivers, hospital workers and others can be on the lookout for signs that may indicate someone is a victim of trafficking. Victims will not have possession of their own identification documents or money and they may seem fearful or uncommunicative at hospitals and be accompanied by someone who is not a family member.

EXTRA
For a look at human trafficking statistics, click here.

“You’d be surprised at the number of cases where the tip-offs are from neighbors, ordinary people who notice something is just not right,” Kuzma said.

Laws and attitudes

Braum said while human traffickers – both traffickers in the sex trade or in forced labor – can be prosecuted under federal laws, states that align laws with federal statutes may have more options for maximizing penalties for traffickers.

“Most states do have laws on the books, but a lot of them aren’t as effective or aren’t being used as effectively as they could be,” Braum said. State laws may also be easier to enforce, or at least may expedite arrest locally.

Historically, prostitution, and its causes, has not been a high priority for law enforcement, Kuzma said. Adult women may still be treated as criminals, regardless of whether they’ve been forced into prostitution, and the customers – or “johns” – don’t suffer any meaningful consequences for their actions.

“A lot of times they are released on their own recognizance, but then if you do that, maybe you can’t find out if she’s a trafficking victim,” Kuzma said. “There’s been some significant research done about the deterrence of johns and their use of prostitutes … and certainly, significant fines, jail time – all those things are effective. The fact that we don’t even slap anybody’s hands is not helpful at all.”

Under Indiana law, solicitation of a minor is a crime, but Zoeller aims to remedy what he calls a loophole in the law that fails to separately address people who profit from the sale of sex with minors. A new draft of the proposed legislation is expected to be presented to the Criminal Code Evaluation Commission on Nov. 2.

Kuzma said that she hopes the public will begin to realize that prostitution is not a victimless crime.

“As we raise awareness, we’re thinking of long-term and not short-term,” she said. “‘Prostitution is the oldest profession – wink, wink – that’s not the right attitude here.”•
 

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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