Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA — Human trafficking is oft-times seen as something that happens in other countries or big cities but happens close to home, too.
As defined, human trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act or labor. The act is induced by force, fraud or coercion.
The month of January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month with the Piqua Police Department and the YWCA joining forces to bring awareness to the community.
During a unique conversation, Leesa Baker, YWCA executive director, and Bruce Jamison, Piqua Chief of Police, provided a wealth of information and alarming statistics on human trafficking that will be shared over the coming weeks. The latter includes the average age of a trafficked victim in the United States being 13 to 15 years of age, with 90 percent of runaways approached for trafficking within the first 72 hours.
Toledo is the 4th largest city of human trafficking in the United States and is a $32 billion dollar industry.
While Baker and Jamison work with city leaders and school facilitators on a local level, state leaders such as Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine work to eliminate human trafficking with passage of House Bill 262 or the Safe Harbor Law. The bill was sponsored by Human Trafficking Commission member Representative Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) with a focus on increasing the penalties for traffickers and improving the care (rescue and restoration) of victims.
Earlier this month, Fedor spoke at the Ohio Statehouse for the 5th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day so as to, “bring to light the issue of modern day slavery.”
According to Fedor, one out of every five girls and one out of every ten boys will be sexually victimized by the time they reach adulthood, with victims too often blamed. Stating the rescue and restore efforts is all about partnerships to educate and advocate to keep this from continuing and happening.
“We’re here to change that,” said Fedor, while quoting American cultural anthropologist, author and speaker, Margaret Mead. “‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’”
Stay tuned to a future Daily Call for more on human trafficking on a local level.