The Louisville Courier headlines Rally warns of human trafficking during this week of Kentucky Derby.

Trafficking light

Trafficking light

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth played a prominent role in raising  awareness of a potential spike in illegal human trafficking during Derby Week.

Activists seeking to combat trafficking say major national sporting events can attract tourists trolling for prostitutes, including cases in which women and underage girls are coerced into selling sex.“We know that human trafficking both for sex and for labor is prevalent both in urban and rural areas throughout the commonwealth,” said Marissa Castellanos, human trafficking program manager for Catholic Charities of Louisville. “We do also know that when large events happen such as Derby, there’s an increase in commercial sex, folks who are looking to purchase prostitution, for example. There’s also a percentage of that that is certainly sex trafficking of women or children.”

She said a major event can also raise the risk for manual-labor exploitation. “It might not rise to the level of trafficking, but we have a lot of folks that we bring into our community for events like Derby that we need for our services — work with horses, work in our hotels for cleaning,” she said. “… They are some of the most at-risk workers for labor exploitation and trafficking.”

Julie Driscoll of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth led the group in a prayer for “the energy to continue trying to eliminate this horrible evil from our city and state and from the world.”

After the rally, participants held up signs for rush-hour traffic to raise awareness of the issue.

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