Human Trafficking Awareness Day Drew 500 to Statehouse

Human Trafficking Awareness Day Drew 500 to Statehouse

Human trafficking survivors shared how they have recovered from their experiences and rebuilt their lives.  More than 500 people gathered in the Statehouse Atrium on Feb. 2 for the Eighth
Annual Ohio Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

“Every year, we gather together for a day of collective reflection here at the Statehouse.  It offers us an opportunity to learn from each other and from those doing the work on the ground and a really important opportunity to learn from the survivor advocates who courageously share their stories and wisdom with us,” said Elizabeth Ranade-Janis, Ohio Anti-Human Trafficking coordinator. “This is a room filled with passionate and politically diverse advocates and movers and shakers in our state to engage in peaceful and productive discourse and to stand united on behalf of the most vulnerable people in our state and in our nation.”

Sometimes called modern-day slavery, human trafficking is a crime in which individuals are forced to engage in labor and/or sex. Ohioans of all ages and demographics can become victims, but children and teenagers are especially vulnerable.

Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal trade in the world, second only to drug trafficking, said state Rep. Teresa Fedor, who has authored several human trafficking bills and organizes the Ohio Human Trafficking Awareness Day each year.

“In Ohio, we’ve identified almost 3,000 children that are at risk every year and 1,000 children that are victimized every year,” she said.

Fedor noted that participation in Human Trafficking Awareness Day has increased each year.

“What does that mean? That means we have grown in the urgency to fix this, to not accept what’s going on,” she said. “[We’re] really looking at it through the eyes of humanity and what we stand for.”

Human Trafficking Awareness Day included panel discussions with social workers and legal and law enforcement professionals. The event featured a keynote address by Elaine Richardson, a literacy studies professor at The Ohio State University who was a human trafficking victim as a young adult. The day closed with another panel discussion in which human trafficking survivors shared how they’ve rebuilt their lives.

Gov. Kasich’s Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force has made available a free 50-minute training video on its website, humantrafficking., about how to recognize the signs of human trafficking. If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 or text “INFO” or “HELP” to 233733.