Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost wants state and community leaders to send a message throughout Ohio that there's help out there for survivors of human trafficking.
Yost gathered hundreds of advocates and resource groups in Columbus for a human trafficking summit. He says one purpose of the summit was to help raise awareness about what state and local partners can do for survivors.
Yost says one thing the state can do is coordinate efforts to make sure survivors of human trafficking know there's help waiting for them
"A lot of these folks have been told over and over again, 'Nobody will believe you,' and they believe that about themselves. They feel their own inability to break free. The start is for an individual person to take the next breath and have hope," says Yost.
He adds that his office is working with the legislature on several bills which include increasing aid for survivors and cracking down on offenders who pay for sex.
Those bills 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
"We can't fix every broken life, we can't repair every broken heart," says Yost. "But what the state can do and should do is to provide the path, the road to redemption."