Derby week renews concerns for victims of human trafficking - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Derby week renews concerns for victims of human trafficking

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Major sporting events like the Kentucky Derby are prime targets for those involved in the national and statewide epidemic of human trafficking.

Since July, there have been 74 reported cases of child trafficking in Kentucky. But a new law will help victims heal and wipe their records clean.


"We do see an increase in ads for escorts and prostitution online during Derby," said Gretchen Hunt, an attorney with the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs.

In fact, human trafficking is common at any major sporting event. While most eyes are focused on fashion, or trained on the track at Churchill, others will be searching for sex.

"We love Derby in the city,” said Hunt. “Derby is the lifeblood of the city, so that's not the problem. The problem is there's a demand for women, and girls and boys every day."

Because of that demand, there’s always a push by advocates for new legislation like the "Safe Harbor Law," passed in 2013 to protect children.

"So they can't be arrested, they can't be locked up for what happens when they've been trafficked,” said Hunt. “They can't be charged with prostitution, or with being truant or running away.  Instead they're supposed to get services."

Three weeks ago, on April 9, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed a new law for even more protection.  Senate Bill 184 allows judges to expunge the records of trafficking victims for non-violent offenses to help rebuild their lives.

"So if they're found with heroin on their person, because their trafficker is making them sell heroin, in addition to prostitute, they can't be charged with that if they present that defense."

Advocates say it will keep women off the streets and teens out of strip clubs, and away from sporting events like the Derby. In turn, allowing them to move on, get jobs and find housing, without the criminal record.

“You know, they can't get a job, no one's going to hire them if they have prostitution arrests, if they have drug convictions, if they have felony convictions, so it's critical for them to be able to escape that cycle."

For more information on human trafficking in Kentucky click here.

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