Ohio Democratic lawmakers brought in a big crowd for their 11th annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day at the Ohio Statehouse.
The event aims to keep people up-to-date on the changing trends of oppression. Hundreds of survivors, advocates and law enforcement heard about human trafficking not only for sex, but also for labor.
State Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) organized the event along with state Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Columbus) and Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron). Fedor says a rising problem is the trafficking of nurses from other countries like the Philippines.
"They're coerced, their visas are taken away, they sign contracts with a lot of promises thinking they're coming into the United States for opportunity, and they're finding that they lost their opportunity because of the bad actors," Fedor says.
The longtime lawmaker has been at the forefront of the human trafficking issue since the late-2000s. Fedor says it's important to continue educating people about the problem.
"We want to uproot this situation so it doesn't exist. We are shining light on the darkness through educating and advocating on this issue," Fedor says.
The Ohio legislature is currently considering several bills to address sex trafficking, although none have advanced out of committee yet. Those proposals include:
- HB431 - Creates the Sexual Exploitation Database (referred to as a "john" registry)
- HB415 - Prohibit a person from receiving proceeds of prostitution.
- HB128 - Modifies penalties for certain soliciting offenses and to specify that an imposed fine may be deposited into the Victims of Human Trafficking Fund.
- SB247 - Deters and creates database about sexual exploitation
Human Trafficking Awareness Day featured over 50 panelists and presentations from survivors of human trafficking. The event ended with the lighting of a candle in honor of trafficking victims.