Incidents of human trafficking tend to spike with major sporting events such as the Super Bowl to meet the high demand for commercial sex. Eleven orders of Catholic women religious in Indiana and Michigan are collaborating with state and local officials to curb human trafficking around the Feb. 5 Super Bowl in Indianapolis.
The Coalition for Corporate Responsibility for Indiana and Michigan (CCRIM) is sponsoring the initiative. The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Mich. (IHM Sisters), are members of CCRIM.
“By its very nature, human trafficking is a hidden problem,” said Nancy Seubert, who represents the IHM Sisters in the Super Bowl 2012 Anti-Trafficking Initiative. “These activities can go on without attracting the awareness of most of the people in the community. We are trying to raise awareness and help educate about the signs of human trafficking in order to stop it.”
Often described as modern slavery, human trafficking occurs across borders and domestically. The United Nations estimates that 700,000 to 4 million women and children are trafficked around the world every year for purposes of forced prostitution, labor and other forms of exploitation. Trafficking is estimated to be a $15.5 billion annual business in the United States alone, according to the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center reported that more than 11,800 calls were made to its hotline regarding sex trafficking in 2010, including calls from the state of Michigan.
CCRIM has been working with a task force comprising the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and other nonprofit organizations to raise awareness about human trafficking and to take steps to prevent it. Since early January, CCRIM has been contacting the managers of 220 hotels within a 50-mile radius of Indianapolis to ask four questions:
— Have employees received training to recognize potential occurrences of human trafficking in their hotels?
— Is there a protocol in place for hotel employees to document and report possible incidences of trafficking?
— Are hotel employees/managers aware of the local groups working to end trafficking?
— Is the hotel willing to make anti-trafficking information available to guests?