By Zach Osowski
Super Bowl is something most major cities dream about, and this February,
Indianapolis will have the privilege, bringing national attention and focus
that local officials hope to parlay into economic development and tourism.
Super Bowl – which determines the champion of the National Football
League – brings its share of issues as well, Indiana Attorney General
Greg Zoeller said Friday. Among them: An increased
commercial sex industry that can include human trafficking.
So Zoeller announced the launch of a program designed to raise
awareness and enhance training about human trafficking, which generally
involves bringing girls and young women into the country illegally and hiring
them out to people as prostitutes.
is part of a state effort by Indiana," Zoeller
said. "But it is also a part of a national effort."
trafficking crimes have increased significantly at the last few Super Bowl
games. At the game in Tampa in 2009, the state's Department of Children and
Families rescued 24 children who had been forced to be sex workers.
in 2010 and 2011 – at games hosted by Miami and Dallas – worked to
decrease the problems, Zoeller said.
they wish they could have done more," he said.
Now, Zoeller is working with the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Sexual Assaulton training sessions meant to help law enforcement officials
decipher the difference between a sex slave and a prostitute. The first event
took place Friday at the Indiana State Office Building.
addition, Zoeller will be working closely with the
Indiana General Assembly to draft a law that addresses human trafficking,
particularly profiting from the sale of sex with girls under 18 years old.
missing in the law now is the actually trafficker," Zoeller
said. "We've always seen the prostitute as the criminal and in these cases
she should be viewed as the victim."
for the legislation is already in the works, Zoeller
said. But he acknowledged lawmakers – who return to work in January –
will have a short window in which to pass a bill into
law before the Feb. 5 game.
The FBI has
no Indiana statistics on human trafficking because it is not one of the top
crimes it tracks in the state, according to Zoeller.
it difficult to tell if training or new laws are making a difference, Zoeller said.
The above is one of an ongoing
series of reports from the Indiana Statehouse by students at the Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism
College Pulliam School of Journalism.