The Creighton University Committee on the Status of Women hosted a lunch and panel at the Mike and Josie Harper Center, Friday; the topic of discussion: human trafficking in and around Nebraska.
Panelists included Annie Boatright of the Office of Attorney General, Jessyca Vandercoy, Indigo Director at the Women’s Center for Advancement, Rachel Pointer of Free the People, and Alexis Steele from the Immigrant Legal Center.
Lisa Johnson of the College of Nursing was the event’s moderator.
“No community is immune to trafficking,” Boatright said. “It exists in every corner of Nebraska.”
She works with the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force within the Attorney General’s office. Part of the task force involves placing advocates and nurses in the field working with victims.
90 percent of human trafficking victims are trafficked domestically, meaning within Nebraska and local areas. Trafficking is a population-based crime.
Up until 2011, there was no concrete evidence of human trafficking in Nebraska. Doug Peterson, the Nebraska Attorney General, has been a major part in fighting against this.
The Indigo Program within the Women’s Center for Advancement serves a population with specialized needs.
“People are not immediately ready to go into therapy,” said Vandercoy. “They need physical and emotional safety first; we provide that.”
The Indigo Program works alongside people and that impact is starting to show through.
88 percent of victims saw a healthcare provider while being trafficked, meaning that they went to doctors’ offices and had checkups.
When asked about large events in Omaha, like the College World Series where trafficking is highlighted as possible activity, the panel answered that it is all happening right under our noses.
Sometimes the notion of “see something, say something” cannot always be used as it can look like normal behavior. It involves watching a situation over time and evaluating as necessary.
“One of the most interesting things from the talk was hearing from professionals,” said College of Arts and Sciences freshman Bella Scipione. “It’s important to know how to combat these problems.”