- Courtesy of Meredith Farmer via Flickr
By Zach Osowski
The Statehouse File
The effort is timed to ensure the toughest-possible prosecution faces vendors of exploitative sex looking to capitalize on the Super Bowl.
Based on experiences reported by past Super Bowl host cities,
the week-long festivities generally accompany a spike in the local sex trade
and an increased potential for the exploitation of trafficking victims.
A coalition of lawmakers, enforcement agencies and victims services groups cooperated to close loopholes in state law that impeded aggressive prosecution of trafficking-related cases.
Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the bill into law Monday.
"The message we send today is: Don't try it here," Daniels said in prepared remarks. "Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis is where this practice ends."
"What we are doing is sending a message," said Rep. Peggy Welch, D-Bloomington. "Indiana does not stand for that kind of abhorrent behavior in our state."
The House passed the bill unanimously, as did the Senate.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has said battling human trafficking has become a goal of attorneys general across the country. But in Indiana, passing the law has been considered even more critical because of the increased victimization predicted to accompany the Super Bowl.
Human trafficking can include the recruiting, harboring or selling of a person for purposes of prostitution, commercial sex acts, forced labor or involuntary servitude. Zoeller has said repeatedly that the large Super Bowl crowd tends to draw organized criminal rings that promote prostitution.
"The legislators who make up our Indiana General Assembly are to be complimented for rising above the tension and divisiveness of the past weeks in coming together to pass this important measure as the first bill of the session," Zoeller said in a statement.
The law broadens the penalty for certain types of trafficking so the sentences are increased and broadens the definition of trafficking so prosecutors could bring charges against traffickers even if no force was used and for situations involving prostitution and involuntary servitude by minors.
The law will have implications beyond the Super Bowl.
"Human trafficking is a $32 billion industry internationally," said Deputy Indiana Attorney General David Miller. "There are 12.3 million people trafficked across country borders every single year. This bill can make a difference today."
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Victims of trafficking, while at times hard to detect, may display any number of telltale signs. These include: signs of physical abuse – even branding (tattoos of jewelry and names are common themes); living and working in the same place; having no time off from work; having little or no access to cash; a mistrust of authorities; having limited social interaction; and an inability to communicate or move around freely. Victims are often accompanied by intermediaries that control all cash, communication and access to freedom.
Child victims of trafficking demonstrate similar symptoms of abuse. Other clues advocates note include: having no friends outside of work; having no time to play; not eating meals with other "family" members; subsisting on leftovers; traveling unaccompanied by adults or in groups of unrelated people; and finding unaccompanied children carrying taxi telephone numbers.
The services offered by escorts and other adult entertainers are legal.
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If we censored adult entertainers, why shouldn't we take the same stance of homebuilders or landscapers that might use trafficked labor or a convenience store that might break the law and sell cigarettes or booze to a minor or a taxi service that might transport a trafficking victim?
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