Be aware of trafficking this weekend

Kentucky’s most popular event, the Kentucky Derby, is this weekend. With that in mind, law enforcement, human rights organizations and even the Attorney General’s office are asking people to pay attention to more than just the race.

The Kentucky Office of Homeland Security issued a warning about an uptick in sex trafficking throughout derby weekend.

“Derby-related events bring a high risk of sex trafficking due to the large amount of visitors flooding Louisville and because of the cash nature of wagering,” said a Facebook post from KOHS intern Audrey Lewis. “It is estimated that more than 150,000 people will attend the Kentucky Derby this year. This event is referred to as ‘money maker’ weekend because of the amount of sex trafficking that takes place.”

Many are unaware or choose to turn a blind eye to the culture of sex trafficking and slavery that still exists in our country. It can be easy to think that the U.S. doesn’t have a problem with trafficking, but the truth is this practice is alive and well. Sadly, it is very profitable for criminals.

According to Free2Hope.org, a nonprofit organization fighting human trafficking in Kentucky, human trafficking made more money than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined in 2016.

People between 12 and 25 years of age are most likely to be used in sex trafficking, according to KOHS.

For those visiting the Derby or other related festivities, there are some warning signs that individuals are being used for sex trafficking include:

— Fearful, timid, submissive behavior

— No personal possessions

— Coached speech

— Seemingly disoriented, confused

— Identical tattoos or branding

— Malnourishment or physical injuries

KOHS recommends avoiding approaching the victim. Instead get a detailed description of the victim, the location, the time, vehicles and any other people. Report possible trafficking by calling 888-373-7888 or 888-EYE-ONKY.

Enjoy the weekend, but be aware of the people around you. If something or someone seems suspicious, go with your gut and report it. A simple phone call could save a life.

About Whitney Leggett

Whitney Leggett is managing editor of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. To contact her, email whitney.leggett@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0049.

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