Study Indicates Ohio is Hub of Sex & Labor Trafficking
A new report released yesterday by the Ohio Trafficking in Persons Study Commission indicates that approximately 1,800 American and immigrant children are coerced into sex-trafficking or forced labor in Ohio. Professor Celia Williamson of the University of Toledo, who led the research for the study, explained, "Ohio is not only a destination place for foreign-born trafficking victims, but it's also a recruitment place," according to CBS News.
The report indicated that state laws are a probable reason for the concentration of human trafficking in Ohio. According to the Dayton Daily News, the report said, "state laws do play a role in the decision-making of human trafficking organizations that are sophisticated and networked...Those more sophisticated trafficking rings are aware of the laws and potential risk of doing business in a particular US state." Toledo, Ohio, ranks fourth in US cities for child sex trafficking arrests, behind Miami, Portland, and Las Vegas. Sex trafficking in other states is also often linked to illegal activity in Ohio. According to the Boston Globe a child prostitution ring that was busted in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 2005 had its center of operations in Toledo.
According to the Dayton Daily News, state Senator Teresa Fedor (D) plans to introduce a bill prohibiting human and sex trafficking. Similar laws exist in 42 states. In states with no-tolerance human trafficking laws, convicted traffickers can face up to 100 years in prison. Currently, law enforcement in Ohio must attach a human trafficking specification to crimes, rather than prosecute offenders under a stand-alone trafficking law, according to the Boston Globe. Sex trafficking victims are also at risk for being arrested for prostitution, while their traffickers often do not face criminal consequences.
Media Resources: Dayton Daily News 2/11/2010; The Boston Globe 2/11/2010; CBS News 2/11/2010