Hoosiers work to stem human trafficking in Indiana

300_58753INDIANAPOLIS – Friday is International Women’s Day — a day to empower women around the globe and bring attention to the very real problem of human trafficking.

More than 17,000 people are trafficked into America every year, and 80 percent of them are women and little girls. Some of them end up enslaved in central Indiana.

A group took to Monument Circle Friday to raise awareness about modern-day slavery and collect signatures on a petition to send to Washington, D.C.

“Our goal today is to stand for freedom,” said Marcus Rinaldi, from his spot on Monument Circle. “We’re partnering with the International Justice Mission , standing for the 27 million people that are enslaved today.”

Recently, vice police have been cracking down to free those forced to work in unthinkable conditions in massage parlors, restaurants and other places in central Indiana.

“One person has described it as just hell,” said Rachael Balakin, who was on Monument Circle Friday. “They’re just completely afraid for their lives on a daily basis, but also trapped by that fear that their trafficker could kill them at any moment if they try to escape and they may never see their families again.”

In Broad Ripple, sisters Kelly and Anne Campbell are fighting human trafficking through their non-profit group and their store — The Village Experience .

They travel the globe teaching trades to help women become self-sufficient, and they sell items made by women they’ve taught.

“It’s a group called ‘Made By Survivors’ and we spent almost the entire month with them, and every single one of the jewelry makers have been rescued out of a brothel,” Kelly Campbell said.

They also focus on prevention. For example, proceeds from the products will go to orphanages in Thailand to empower those little girls, and hopefully keep them from becoming victims of the slave trade.

“There are so many groups, whether it’s directly rescuing women from prostitution or supporting orphanages when they’re young so that they don’t have to go into that world,” Anne Campbell said.

The goal of the group on Monument Circle is to get 150,000 signatures Friday alone on petitions across the country to send to President Obama.


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