I’ve picked on Ohio numerous times in the past, and I’m about to do it again.
A new report by the Trafficking in Persons Study Commission (formed last year by Ohio Attorney General Richard Condray) found that Ohio is not only a destination place for foreign-born victims of human trafficking, but also a place of recruitment.
In fact, according to an AP article, the report found that each year about 1,000 American-born children are forced into the sex trade in Ohio, and another 800 immigrant children are sexually exploited or forced into sweat-shop jobs:
Nationwide, between 45,000 and 50,000 people are trafficked into the United States, according to a 2001 report by the U.S. State Department. But [Celia] Williamson noted that the problem is hard to quantify because of the underground nature of human trafficking, and studies often rely on estimates. Even the Ohio study, which analyzed law enforcement and government databases, is limited, she said.
Why Ohio? According to the article, the state’s immigrant population has substantially grown in recent years, and there is a high demand for cheap labor. Ohio is also close to Canada. Many children from other countries are brought through Toronto’s international airport and cross the border into American towns and cities. Toledo, Ohio, was ranked fourth in the U.S. when it comes to crimes related to child sex victims.
Ohio also has weak laws when it comes to human trafficking. Often, law enforcement doesn’t recognize it when they see it, and child sex-trafficking cases are handled through the child welfare system rather than the juvenile courts.
Over the years, many other states have enacted specific laws and harsh penalties for crimes related to human trafficking. Obviously, Ohio has some catching up to do. Hopefully this new report will go a long way in doing that.