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Monday, February 2, 2015

Scioto County Is One of 24 Ohio Counties Without Human-Trafficking Coalition: The Need Is Now!



“Nothing is more important than protecting Ohio’s children and families from harm, and the criminals who enslave and abuse vulnerable Ohioans must be and will be held accountable,”
Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement.

(Alan Johnson. "Ohio touts successes against human trafficking."
The Columbus Dispatch. January 27, 2015)

Wonderful progress ...

 Ohio been steadily tightening laws on trafficking, including the End Demand Act, signed into law in June by Gov. John Kasich. The law focuses on reducing demand in the sex-for-sale business.

The Ohio attorney general’s office Human Trafficking Report documented activities by the state commission to “strengthen protections for victims, create stiffer penalties for traffickers and educate Ohioans on human trafficking and what can be done to stop it.”

Of the 98 arrests last year, prosecutors obtained 17 convictions, three under state trafficking laws, DeWine’s report said. Of the trafficking victims identified, 147 were female and 34 male. Four were younger than 12; 35 were 15 to 17; and 71 were 18 to 20.

The report identified the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force as one of the most-active coalitions in the state, rescuing 17 potential victims, referring 67 to social services and obtaining seven criminal convictions against traffickers.

But ...

The report noted of Ohio’s 88 counties, 24 have no human-trafficking training or access to victim services. In general, trauma therapy and treatment for trafficking survivors is limited.

Our area of Southern Ohio -- including Scioto, Pike, Gallia, Lawrence, and Jackson counties -- has NO Human Trafficking Coalition. This is unacceptable for our citizens, and we must demand better protection from our public servants and demand critical, updated resources and treatment from our county agencies. Please, understand that  the threat IS REAL and that trafficking IS ALREADY OCCURRING here.

In Ohio, traffickers include organized crime, family, friends, village chiefs, and even owners of small businesses. Greedy individual profiteers can run a lucrative trade while sex offenders derive evil pleasure from this form of human slavery. Political connections and prominence can serve to shield trafficking rings. And, of course, indifference to criminal activity serves to keep trafficking thriving in any community that isn't both vigilant and protective.

How are people recruited? Traffickers use a variety of means including abduction, newspaper and online social media ads, fake employment agencies, word of mouth, acquaintances, and family. Sometimes those in prominent positions abuse their power and resources to engage in trafficking. Or, "moneyed" traffickers even offer marriage or promises of a "better life" to lure their victims.

Once trapped, these victims are tightly controlled by their adductors. Drugs, money, and shelter are tools traffickers employ to help achieve this control. Traffickers also use extreme coercion in the forms of threats of serious harm, physical restrains, and brainwashing techniques that cause victims to believe that failure to perform an act would result in abuse against them or against their family/relatives.

Those who are trafficked are forced into compelled services such as adult-oriented businesses, prostitution, agricultural work, childcare and domestic work, and restaurant employment. The slaves of trafficking are usually harbored in one area for a time, then moved.

Indeed, the criminals involved in trafficking do employ brute force to assure compliance -- human slaves are often raped and beaten by their captors while being confined in horrible conditions. All the while, these victims of severe physical and psychological abuse are trapped in this involuntary servitude, debt bondage, and sex exploitation.

Severe forms of trafficking in persons include the following activities:
  1. Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or
  2. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose  of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Let me ask you a couple of important questions about human trafficking in Scioto County:

* Do you acknowledge that those you consider prostitutes, drug addicts, beggars, and children abused by lives of servitude exist in your community?

* Can you readily see these people in your towns, villages, and neighborhoods?

* Do you really think powerful criminal elements behind the scene do not control and profit from such trafficking activities?

* Do you really believe certain "connected" prominent citizens of our county are not involved in human trafficking?

If you answered "yes" to all four questions, I assume you realize we must all work together NOW to stop human trafficking activities here. Instead of merely labeling the symptoms of the problem "whores, druggies, and scum" and expecting crime to stop, look toward the real sources of the trafficking that has thrived much too long in our county.

We have some bad, criminal leaders whose greed has devoured their consciences while it has blighted our soil. The sad, sad, sad thing about the problem is that WE ALL KNOW who these crooks are and what they do, but we are UNWILLING TO ACT against evil. So many good people here have become accustomed to accepting crime because they just consider it a normal part of their daily existence. And, others refuse to "rock the boat" because their little pond is either isolated from wrongdoing or insulated by their connections to wrongdoing so much they DON'T CARE ABOUT VICTIMS.

Please direct your eyes and brain to this Facebook Event Site titled "In Plain Sight! Human Trafficking Awareness" and become active in the fight against human trafficking in Southern Ohio. Click this link:

 https://www.facebook.com/events/835875186455511/?pnref=story

Tell the organizers of the site you are "Going" and plan to see a great program of information about trafficking. Then, get yourself there to the program. We hope to see a large crowd in New Boston on February 28 in support of needed change. Do this for yourself, your relatives, and your loved ones. But, also do it for others in such desperate need. Thank you so much.
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