Close But Far Away

Posted by: Joy Burton on June 21, 2018

Close But Far Away

Last week, a 7-year-old girl asked me what human trafficking is. She was at our Indianapolis-based office for daycare.

I told her that it happens when women aren’t treated well by men. She believed me, but could tell I was being careful.

Of course, it’s not fair to water-down human trafficking. Trafficking is horrible. It’s unimaginable. Survivor testimonies read like horror novels.

My simplified definition was vague and a little misleading, but looking back, there was one thing right: it made human trafficking seem close to home.

Because it is.

When Purchased attends event fairs, we often get the question of how human trafficking happens in Indiana. We tell them it’s because we’re the “Crossroads of America,” making us a common drive-through state. Trafficking clients might stop in for a day on their trip across the country. It really happens.

It happens and it’s easy. “Buying” girls is just as simple as buying a hotel room - you can even order online.

We know that in the midst of a long travel, it doesn’t have to be Vegas - it can be Gary, IN, clients are willing to compromise.

That’s why traffickers spread their services to every corner of the country, including here.

One famous client was Indianapolis-born Jared Fogle, the spokesman from Subway. Jared was married for 6 years before being tried and convicted. He had two kids, 3 and 5 years old. He was a family man, not the “type.” That’s because there is no type.

Jared knowingly offered money for “finders” to get two 14-year-old girls for him on separate occasions, whom he took to hotel rooms. No matter how much clients ignore it, no 14-year-old sells themselves for sex. Those girls were trafficked.

I go to school at Indiana University, Jared’s alma mater. At IU, students like me are just now realizing we have the power to use each other for good or evil. Especially now that we have more freedom. But the abuse of power leads to significant harm sometimes, even sexual assault. Two of my best friends are victims.

It’s ridiculous. And sure, the school makes a good effort, like with ‘no means no’ reminders, but some students struggle getting that down. It’s like they think that sex is their right.

So let’s blame trafficking on a culture that treats sex as an entitlement. Because it’s shared from Evansville to South Bend. It’s trending in schools and sandwich shops.

Let’s make #LetsTalkHT trend instead.


Next week, we will be focusing on how to stop the issue of human trafficking at its source. The blog will focus on how to address and change the tough facts we’ve discussed already. It’s nice to know there are ways to improve this situation we face.

Thanks for the talk! #LetsTalkHT

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