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May 16, 2014

ISU students head to Indy to fight human trafficking

Soap bars to be placed in hotels

TERRE HAUTE — Fast cars may lure many to Indianapolis this time of year, but for a group of Indiana State University students, the mission today will be to shine a light on human trafficking ahead of next week’s Indy 500.

After a training session with Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution, volunteers will split into teams and visit hotels, bars and strip clubs near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to distribute soap labeled with the human trafficking hotline number, 888-373-7888, and provide information on identifying and reporting human trafficking.

This will be the second human trafficking outreach program ISU students participated in this year. They traveled to New Jersey before the Super Bowl to work with the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Be Free Dayton and SOAP.

Sex trafficking is whenever a person, often the young and vulnerable, is forced into the commercial sex trade against his or her will. According to the U.S. State Department, child and human trafficking is a global criminal enterprise second only to the illegal drug trade.

“Most people don’t know that human trafficking is the second-leading crime worldwide, and that it happens in Indianapolis, too,” said Tracy Pruitt, an Indiana State adjunct professor who participated in the Super Bowl outreach. “Unfortunately, victims are sometimes picked up on college and university campuses, which means there are more people at-risk of being trafficked than we sometimes think.”

The outreach in Indianapolis today will be small-scale, but Pruitt said plans are in the works to do two or three similar outreach projects per year at large events, including at the NCAA’s Final Four in Indianapolis.

Training includes tips for spotting human trafficking, such as looking for expensive vehicles at lower-end hotels and motels.

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