It is alarming that modern-day slavery still exists in the form of human trafficking. Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing criminal industries globally. Trafficking can happen to any person irrespective of their national origin or ethnicity.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, the money acquired through human trafficking annually is over $35 billion. Human traffickers often use manipulative tactics such as debt bondage, deception, and threats to coerce people to provide labor or commercial sex services against their will.
Ohio ranks among the top ten states for human trafficking cases in the United States. This statistic is alarming for residents who actively report suspect trafficking activity to relevant authorities. If you or someone close are a victim of human trafficking, get in touch with a human trafficking lawyer for legal advice.
Federal and state law prohibits modern-day slavery. The perpetrators of human trafficking, including those who purchase services from trafficking victims, can get convicted. Keep reading to understand the state of human trafficking in Ohio.
What Is Human Trafficking in Ohio?
Various state, national and global organizations define human trafficking differently. According to the United Nations, human trafficking is recruiting, transporting, harboring, or receiving people using a form of coercion for exploitation.
The U.S. Department of State uses human trafficking and modern slavery interchangeably. The agency defines human trafficking as crimes where traffickers exploit and profit at the expense of others by forcing them to perform labor or work as commercial sex workers.
Ohio law considers human trafficking in two broad categories:
This refers to any commercial sex action compelled by coercion, force, or fraud. Federal law considers any minor in commercial sex as a victim of child sex trafficking.
According to local state law, labor trafficking involves using force, coercion, or fraud to recruit, harbor, or obtain a person for labor services for slavery.
Human Trafficking Statistics in Ohio
As of June 2022, Ohio ranks fifth nationally in terms of human trafficking cases ranking by state. With a human trafficking rate of 3.84 victims per 100,000 residents, it has the fourth worst ratio nationally.
The cities with the most human trafficking in Ohio include Cincinnati and Scioto. Ohio’s capital, Columbus, is one of the worst cities in the U.S for human trafficking.
Human traffickers usually seek out vulnerable potential victims who might be emotionally susceptible, experiencing economic hardships, or lack a social safety net. The people at the highest risk of becoming victims are runaways.
Approximately 98% of sex trafficking victims in Ohio are 21- to 29-year-old white females. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH), of the 310 cases identified in 2020, about 86% were female.
Sex Trafficking in Ohio
Sex trafficking takes various forms, including child prostitution and urban, street-based sex workers. Individuals may end up in the forced sex trade for various reasons, such as the false promise of a better life and good employment opportunities. Some get offered work as nannies, models, or in vibrant cities’ hospitality industry.
Other times, individuals may receive offers for construction jobs or in the agriculture industry. People from middle-class economies may get drawn into human trafficking by fake promises of modeling or acting opportunities. Other traffickers use companionship, like romantic relationships or familial bonds, to entice victims.
Sex Trafficking and the Hospitality Industry
Businesses in the hospitality sector are prime territories for sex traffickers. They leverage the privacy and anonymity that these establishments offer. Sex trafficking often occurs in motels, hotels, nightclubs, and cruise ships.
Traffickers advertise online or through word of mouth, while victims get restricted to their rooms, unable to leave. If businesses ignore such practices in their establishment, they must be held accountable.
Social Media and Sex Trafficking
Modern technology simplifies connecting with others online. This gives traffickers various ways to contact targets. Dating apps and social media platforms are common choices for sex traffickers trying to access the young and vulnerable.
Until they are held accountable, such businesses continue to offer child prostitution and sex traffickers a simple way to choose and exploit vulnerable targets. Making these companies change their policies will protect users and expose suspicious activity.
Factors Contributing to Trafficking and Involuntary Servitude
The dynamics of supply and demand drive the criminal human trafficking industry. Different factors may make adults or children vulnerable to traffickers. But human trafficking primarily exists because of the demand for cheap labor and commercial sex.
Human traffickers victimize others for profit. It is critical to address the demand to solve the trafficking issue conclusively. The top reasons for trafficking include:
When people are willing to purchase commercial sex, they create a market that makes it profitable for criminals to exploit others. Customers willing to pay for goods and services from industries dependent on forced labor create a profit incentive for traffickers.
Traffickers usually assume there is minimal risk to their criminal activities. Although prosecutions and penalties have increased with time, many human traffickers believe the high profits outweigh the risk of detection.
Overview of Human Trafficking Laws in Ohio
Federal and state law protects victims of human trafficking in Ohio. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 addresses human trafficking while focusing on international dimensions. It offers a three-sided approach to the crime:
- Prevention through public awareness and a State Department-led program.
- Protection through a T-Visa for foreign nationals.
- Prosecution through federal crime.
The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2015 addresses the accountability of runaway children and missing kids from foster care.
Ohio Human Trafficking Law
The Ohio Revised Code Section 2905.32 (Trafficking in Persons) imposes criminal sanctions on human traffickers and purchasers. The trafficking of persons and sex trafficking is punishable by a jail term.
The law provides various protections for human trafficking victims. Below are some of these protections:
- Safe harbor for minors.
- Intervention for adult victims.
Other protections allow victims to pursue civil damages against human traffickers. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services can assist victims through the Victims of Human Trafficking Asset Seizure Fund.
Human Trafficking Warning Signs
Human and sex traffickers run operations in different types of establishments. Victims of sex and human trafficking may:
- Have signs of physical trauma like bruises or brands.
- Look malnourished.
- Lack possessions and identification.
- Have poor physical and dental health.
- Avoid eye contact and conversations.
- Live at the workplace.
If you suspect a business supports human trafficking, contact an experienced human trafficking attorney to help hold them accountable.
Effects of Human Trafficking
Human trafficking has physical, emotional, and psychological effects on victims. Some adult and minor trafficking victims suffer the effects of trafficking all their lives. Below are some of the effects of human trafficking on victims.
Since traffickers dehumanize and objectify victims, victims of trafficking may suffer severe psychological effects during and after rescue from their captors. Most human trafficking survivors suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Others have mental issues like depression and anxiety.
Human trafficking victims also experience physical injuries. Victims of sexual exploitation face abuse from traffickers and individuals purchasing commercial sexual services. Some get raped, beaten, and abused for extended periods, making them at a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
Victims of forced labor often work in hazardous conditions, doing repetitive tasks for long hours. They may get exposed to toxic contaminants or work with heavy equipment without training. Because of this, most forced labor victims may suffer infections, injuries, impairments, and respiratory illnesses.
Traffickers usually isolate victims from family, friends, and society. When some people return home after rescue or escaping trafficking situations, they may face stigma. This isolation may increase their vulnerability and expose them to trafficking once more.
False Prosecutions and Convictions
Trafficked individuals are often forced to partake in illegal activities. If law enforcement fails to differentiate between victims and criminals, some survivors get prosecuted and convicted for things they did unwillingly.
Having a criminal record can make moving forward from trafficking situations challenging. It prevents them from securing jobs, renting apartments, or getting financial aid for education.
Lack of Social and Independent Living Skills
Many people who escape from trafficking experiences lack the education and skills to live independently. After staying confined to a certain job for many years, they lack the opportunity to learn social and living skills.
If trafficked at a young age, many human trafficking victims do not attend school to get an education. They may not understand the laws of foreign countries or not understand the language. If you were a victim of trafficking and escaped, talk to a human trafficking lawyer in Ohio for legal counsel.
Report Human Trafficking in Ohio to Law Enforcement Agencies
If you witness or suspect human trafficking, alert the police or human trafficking hotline. Call the National Human Resource Center on 888-373-7888. You can call any time of day and report the incident anonymously. The National Human Trafficking Hotline works with law enforcement, human trafficking lawyers, and other professionals.
Contact a Human Trafficking Lawyer
The human trafficking situation in Ohio is grim. The state’s capital is one of the worst cities for human trafficking in the U.S. However, the state is taking action. If untamed, the human trafficking market will continue to prosper in environments where criminals make huge amounts of money.
New legislation and anti-trafficking services have increased the number of task forces addressing human trafficking. Police departments and law enforcement officers collaborate across county lines to arrest perpetrators and third parties that benefit from modern-day slavery.
If you or someone close is a victim of human trafficking, it is critical to take legal action. Don’t let at-fault parties get away with criminal offenses.
Book a free consultation today to evaluate your case.