State Representative Teresa Fedor and the National Association of Social Workers hosted the Third Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day at the Columbus Statehouse. Special guests included Attorney General Mike DeWine, Amy Allen of the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Attorney James Moroney, Lucas County Judge Connie Zemmelman, Franklin County Judge Paul Herbert, Montgomery County Judge Gregory Singer, and Theresa Flores, survivor and Director of Awareness and Training for Gracehaven.
Representative Fedor has been organizing Human Trafficking Awareness Days to bring light to this important issue. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in every county in Ohio – from forced labor at massage parlors, to parents selling their children for drugs, to a highly-organized gang operation that recruited and moved underage girls from one location to another selling them for sex. Human trafficking is a very real problem that is affecting more than 1,000 Ohio children every year. More than 3,000 Ohio children are considered to be high risk for trafficking.
Representative Fedor has also introduced new legislation, H.B. 262 or the Safe Harbor Act, which aims help minor victims of human trafficking. “When a minor is being sexually exploited, that minor is often arrested on prostitution charges and is sent to jail. Quite simply, this does not solve the problem. If the arrested minor is instead provided with needed services to recover, that minor will be able to break the cycle of abuse and become a contributing member of society. Without some form of intervention, 77 percent of sexually exploited youth simply continue to be prostitutes in adulthood,” said Rep. Fedor.