Sex for sale: sex trafficking in Ohio

Kelsey Anne Smith, Contributing Writer
October 4, 2012
Filed under News

It may seem as though Ohio would not be a hot-spot for human trafficking.  However, Ohio has a surprisingly significant problem with both sex and labor trafficking.  From strip clubs and massage parlors to forced labor in agriculture, restaurants, textiles, landscaping, and small factories, Ohio is host to a number of international and domestic targets.
A website designed to promote awareness of trafficking in the local area, stophumantraffickingdayton.org, defines human trafficking as a form of modern slavery which uses, “force, fraud, and coercion for the purpose of commercial sex and forced labor.”
Currently, Ohio authorities estimate that over one thousand children are currently being trafficked, with another three thousand at high risk.  Toledo is known by the FBI for its large number of sex trafficking pimps, and Ohio ranks fifth in the United States for the largest amount of strip clubs.
Until December of 2010, Ohio did not employ strong human trafficking legislation.  Although human trafficking is now considered a second-degree felony in the state, Ohio is still labeled as a member of the “Dirty Dozen,” the group of states which have a weak system of dealing with offenses.   In addition to this weak system, Ohio sees a large amount of human trafficking due to a rise in the state’s immigrant population, the accessible and widespread highway system, and the presence of strict trafficking laws in all surrounding states.  According to the Greater Cincinnati Human Trafficking Report, only 20% of people surveyed even knew that Ohio had human trafficking legislation.
The city of Dayton has already been playing an active role, specifically in combatting sex trafficking.  With organizations such as Love 146 Dayton Task Force, Oasis House, Men of Action, Abolition Ohio, and S.O.A.P. (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution), the Dayton area is becoming well-versed in the ways of preventing and caring for victims of human trafficking.   On October 27th, the Dayton Racquet Club will be hosting the presentation, “The Crime and Fight to End Human Trafficking.”  More information on this event can be found at http://stophumantraffickingdayton.org/.
For students at Wright State, the frequency of human trafficking issues in Ohio presents the need to be cautious.  Many cases of modern day slavery have occurred through physical kidnappings.  Students, women in particular, should be wary of strangers around them and be aware of the proximity of the blue light emergency phones.  Additionally, apps that are similar to the emergency phones, such as LifeLine Response (http://www.llresponse.com/), are available.
Those who suspect a case of human trafficking are encouraged to call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888.

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