Courtesy of MCT
Many of you read those words and think, not in America.
That assumption is wrong, and the ignorance on the subject of human trafficking is part of the reason why it is so prevalent and such a crucial part of Columbus’ community today. Twenty-seven million people are enslaved worldwide, according to the Polaris Project, and the sobering reality is that Ohio is a hub, the fifth leading state for human trafficking in the United States, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
The many questions that arise after hearing that number were presented, discussed and analyzed by Columbus Metropolitan Club Jan. 23.
Columbus Metropolitan Club is a nonprofit organization based in downtown Columbus. The mission of CMC is to create community conversation and open exchange of information to the residents of central Ohio through weekly forums offering discussion on civic, social and public interests and issues.
The forums present a panel of experts on the topic being conversed that week. On Jan. 23, CMC’s expertise came from three intelligent and highly active residents of central Ohio – Municipal Court Judge Paul Herbert, Michelle Hannan from The Salvation Army and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
These panelists shared their interactions with victims of human trafficking in central Ohio, both good and bad. Herbert said he sees many women who are wrongly convicted of prostitution because they have been forced into sexual labors for others in the sex trade. Herbert has set up an organization called CATCH, Changing Actions To Change Habits, as an alternative for these victims of sex trafficking instead of being sent to prison.
Hannan works with The Salvation Army’s Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition, a nonprofit that takes in victims of sex and labor trafficking daily. She has met personally with women who have been beaten, chained, sexually abused and so terrified they have succumbed to being mute or skeptical of all other humans, she said.
Hannan and Central Ohio Rescue and Restore offer a process to ending modern slavery in Ohio that involves steps including:
Talk – if you learn about human trafficking and its prominent presence in Ohio, share this information with others through books, news articles, speakers, etc.
Lobby – contact federal and state legislators and tell them that human trafficking is an important concern to you. Find your representatives using your zip code.
Rescue – help rescue others by educating on red flags and what to spot and by supporting organizations like CORRC.
Report – if you see a situation that might be human trafficking in Ohio, call the CORRC hotline at 614-285-HELP. If not in Ohio, call the national hotline at: 1-888-3737-888.
Human trafficking is an issue that can go unnoticed due to the nature of kidnapping and hiding the victims by the perpetrators, but it is our job as citizens of central Ohio to end modern-day slavery. As college students, it is easier for us to come together to create a coalition against modern-day slavery, an alliance that would spread awareness through posters, speakers, protests to our government and becoming more aware of our surroundings. Let’s take a stand, take action and end the sexual and labor slavery of other women and men our age.
If you would like to learn more about the CMC visit their website at columbusmetroclub.org.
If you would like to learn more about the Central Ohio Rescue and Restore visit their website at centralohiorescueandrestore.org.