GEORGETOWN — The majority of calls from Kentucky to a national human trafficking hotline deal with sex trafficking, a Georgetown College audience was told Friday.
Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center's hotline has received 370 calls from Kentucky, said Lexington native Alden Pinkham, who works at the center.
Fifty-two percent of those calls have dealt with sex trafficking, 17 percent with trafficking in forced labor, and 9 percent with both sex and forced labor trafficking, Pinkham said. The balance of the remaining calls was not specified.
Pinkham presented the data at the first statewide conference on human trafficking. The conference continues Saturday.
The monthly average of calls to the center has increased from 480 in 2008 to 1,620 in 2011, Pinkham said. Since 2007, the center has fielded more than 49,000 calls from all 50 states.
More than 300 of those calls have come from truckers who reported cases of suspected trafficking of children for sex, Pinkham said. Truck stops along major highways have become sites where children are put up for prostitution as traffickers move from place to place.
Of the 11 cases or indictments for human trafficking reported in Kentucky, 10 have involved domestic minor sex trafficking, said Jennifer Cole, an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky. One case involved a Madison County couple who allegedly offered their daughters for prostitution services.
Kentucky Rescue & Restore, which helps the victims of human trafficking, has served 58 clients since 2007 who were trafficked as children, Cole said.
Determining the true scope of human trafficking is complicated, Cole said, because many victims are fearful about reporting their situations or they don't see themselves as victims who are being exploited.
Meanwhile, a bill that would strengthen Kentucky's human-trafficking law is still in the Senate Judiciary Committee. A hearing on the bill was held Thursday, but there was not a quorum present to vote on it and send it to the full Senate, said state Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris. Overly hopes a vote will come next week.
The bill would increase training for police officers on human trafficking, create a special Kentucky State Police unit to investigate human trafficking, and strengthen laws to help prosecutors convict human traffickers.
The toll-free number for the national human trafficking hotline is 1-888-373-7888.