Trafficking calls increase

The news: In July, Troy Bonaparte, 46, the first person convicted in Cook County under tougher laws aimed against human trafficking, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for forcing three women into prostitution.

Behind the news: Last year, more than 11,800 calls were made to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline maintained by the Polaris Project, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.

Illinois had the fourth-highest volume of calls—nearly 5.2 percent—made to the national hotline between December 2007 and December 2010, ranking one place higher than New York.

According to the group’s 2009 report, the hotline received calls about 2,043 potential victims of human trafficking across the country that year. Of all the calls, 60 percent cited sex trafficking, 25 percent represented labor trafficking and 15 percent referenced other types of trafficking, like international marriage brokering and organ trafficking.

Andrea Austin, program manager at the Polaris Project, said more calls from Illinois are coming in because “we’re working a lot with Illinois state legislators. There are various coalition groups we interact with.”

California, Texas and Florida, had more calls because they had even better public awareness, with campaigns or task forces publicizing the hotline widely, Austin said.

“The more we raise the awareness about the hotline in a given area, the more calls we get,” she said.

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