Modern slavery is on the rise as human trafficking continues on the increase across the state. The National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTRC) reported 1,352 calls and 375 cases. 322 of those cases involved female victims, while 36 involved males and five involved gender minorities. Since 2007, the state has had a total of 5,070 calls and 1,203 cases. From these cases, there are 1,283 moderate victims and 1,114 high victims.
“The NHTRC works closely with service providers, law enforcement, and other professionals in Ohio to serve victims and survivors of trafficking, respond to human trafficking cases, and share information and resources,” NHTRC stated.
Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry that includes abduction of people for both sex and labor trafficking. These people are often trapped into trafficking through friends and loved-ones. They could also be abducted with false promises, scams and job offers.
A statement from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office stated, “Human trafficking is an estimated multi-billion a year international enterprise that forces the most vulnerable among us into the horrors of modern-day slavery. Criminals who are involved in trafficking other human beings prey upon those already at risk in our society, often our children.”
In Ohio, 13 is the most common age for a youth to become a victim of sex trafficking. A study completed by the state showed that of 207 victims, 49 percent were first trafficked under the age of 18. Statistics involving the current number of people in bondage is difficult; however, it is believed that over 100,000 children nationally are part of the sex trade.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office’s Human Trafficking Commission works to combat human trafficking by gathering as much data as possible and working on legislation. The commission puts out an annual report outlining each year’s outlook. For 2016, law enforcement reported 135 human trafficking investigations leading to 79 arrests and 28 successful criminal convictions.
“Law enforcement agencies also reported the number of potential victims, traffickers, and buyers/johns they identified during the past year,” the report explains. “Female victims of sex trafficking were the most commonly identified human trafficking victims reported by law enforcement during the past year. There were 151 potential victims of human trafficking identified, with 117 being female, 17 being male and 17 having no gender specified. Of the potential victims, one was age 12 or younger, 14 were 14 to 15 years old, 21 were 16 to 17 years old, 28 were 18 to 20 years old, 51 were 21 to 29 years old, 24 were 30 to 40 years old, and six were 41 to 59 years old.”
There are signs the community can watch for which include sleeping bags in a restaraunt, indicating employees are living are their workplace; workers that appear nervous, fearful or exceptionally young; one or two males checking a larger group of females into a hotel; girls referring to their boyfriend or as “daddy,” which is sometimes street slang for pimp; and indications that people are not allowed to go into public alone or are being kept inside.
“The Attorney General’s Office cannot fight this problem alone. In order to prosecute those who are preying upon our vulnerable populations, we urge Ohioans to report any information they might have about human trafficking to BCI by calling 1-855-BCI-OHIO (224-6446). This will allow our agents to work with local law enforcement to arrest and prosecute traffickers,” the office explained. The National Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached at 1-888-373-7888.
Editor’s note: This is part three of a continuing series on human trafficking.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1930.