Freeway to Freedom

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Freeway to Freedom

Ohio launches human trafficking summit to build ‘freeway to freedom’ for victims. But, do we need it here in Hamilton County?

Recently there have been too many news stories of prostitution and human trafficking occurring in the 28th House District & Hamilton County…affecting communities from Blue Ash to Springfield Township.

Human Trafficking Summit

In January, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost held his office’s inaugural Human Trafficking Summit. The event brought together law-enforcement officials, victims’ advocates and others involved in anti-trafficking efforts. As reported by Cleveland.com the Attorney General hoped the summit would help identify “gaps” in the work being done to stop human trafficking.

For years, law-enforcement officials, victims’ advocates and others have been working to address Ohio’s status. Typically, Ohio serves as one of the worst states when it comes to human trafficking. Human trafficking is the transporting of people for forced prostitution or labor. In recent years, Ohio ranked as high as fourth in the nation for the number of trafficked people. Ohio had over 1,000 victims identified between 2014 and 2016 according to a University of Cincinnati study.

The Attorney General convened the summit so that all the groups battling human trafficking independently can communicate. Additionally, the summit stressed collaboration on better solutions to the problem.

He said the government’s role in the fight against trafficking should be to clear a path for activists – or, as he said, “a freeway to freedom, a highway to hope, a right-of-way to redemption.”

The Attorney General created a Human Trafficking Initiative in the last year. The program aims to assist his office with prosecuting trafficking cases. Additionally, it works to help educate people, such as hotel staff and health department workers, to recognize signs of human trafficking. These signs include couples checking into a hotel with no luggage or a change in behavior by victims.

Ohio State Legislation

The Attorney General has also pushed state lawmakers to pass a number of anti-trafficking reforms, including setting up a state registry for “johns,” pimps and traffickers. State Representative Cindy Abrams from House District 29 introduced the legislation. Overall, more work still needs to happen to build that “freeway to freedom.” However, it’s a great start.

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