The Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center (GLIIHC), Wisconsin’s only Urban Indian Health Center, is located just south of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which has a population of 595,351 (2017, est.). GLIIHC is located in the urban community where most American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) who live in the area reside. It is the only Urban Indian Health Center in Wisconsin.
Sadly, Milwaukee is known nationally for being a hub for sex trafficking. It’s even earned two notorious nicknames as the “mecca for sex trafficking” and the “Harvard of pimp school.” Experts have theorized that several things contribute to this, namely that there are expressways that connect Chicago, Minneapolis, the Wisconsin Dells, and North Dakota (due to the fracking industry). There are also a number of conventions and sporting events that take place every year in Milwaukee. It’s geographically central, it’s poor, and it’s never recovered from the collapse of the manufacturing industry that once supported tens of thousands of city residents. A report by the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission (2016) found that 340 individuals ages 25 and under were confirmed or were believed to be victims of sex trafficking between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2016 in Milwaukee. They were: overwhelmingly female (97%), young (55% were under age 18), and often had a history of having been reported missing. Of those who had been reported missing, 59% were reported from out-of-home care (e.g. foster care or group homes). They frequently became trafficking victims at very young ages, too. See the following table for additional information.
Though AI/AN make up just 1% of the statewide population, they make up 2% of the population of Milwaukee, and they made up 4.7% of the statewide allegations of child sex trafficking in the dates tracked between 2017-2018 (Reports of Child Sex Trafficking Allegations & Substantiations to Child Protective Services, WI Dept. of Children and Families, December 2018). Thus, AI/AN children were represented in this total at nearly five times the rate of their representation in the overall population. As many trafficking victims are over the age of 18, this is only part of the picture. The Wisconsin Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Information and Analysis reported that AI/AN patients have a 240% higher rate of visits to emergency departments for sexual violence than their white counterparts (2018). Locally, rates of sexual victimization of AI/AN people are likely underreported. Advocates and clinicians know that many survivors may opt not to report, or may be victims of trafficking and therefore have no way to make reports.
The Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center Forensic Healthcare Services Program will have the following goals:
Goal 1: Strengthen or increase access to quality medical Forensic Healthcare to victims of domestic and sexual violence including children.
Goal 2: Foster coalitions and networks to improve coordination and collaboration among partners to ensure adequate services exist either on site or by referral for victims of domestic and sexual violence, sexual exploitation/human trafficking, and child maltreatment 24 hours per day/7 days per week year round.
Goal 3: Promote Education, Training, and Community Resources.
Goal 4: Integrate at least one program/intervention that is an evidence-based practice, or known as a promising practice, and may be integrated or coordinated with traditional practices and/or faith-based services to facilitate the social and emotional well-being of victims and their families.
Goal 5: Develop a process and a formal plan for sustainability of these objectives and activities beyond the life of this grant.