03 May 2010

A Week in Ohio Traffick

The last of the sentencing happened yesterday when 3 of 4 men received over 40 years in prison. 23-year old Jacob Tyler and 21-year old Robert Harris both were sentenced to 15 years in prison and 12 years probation. 23-year old Richard Johnson was sentenced to 10 years and one month behind bars with 10 years of probation. And Wednesday, the 23-year old Army E-3, Craig Corey was sentenced to 17 1/2 years in prison.

These men pleaded guilty to a number of charges, one including sex trafficking and enticement to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution with Craig being the mastermind.

Seven days earlier ...

On Apr 23, a normal Friday night, students from Taylor University were found gathered together in silence. They were seeing first hand what sex traffick looks like. An exhibit called 'If I could Speak' using 6, 18 x 27 inch colored pencil drawings, illustrates victims of sex traffick. The work is done by Rachel Moore, a senior Studio Art major at Taylor. Rachel uses her passion and talent to be a catalyst for change.

"I think a lot of people [understand] the importance of sex trafficking, but so much of the funds and energy is geared toward awareness that no one has really taken the time and effort to put together shelters," Caleb said. "[We] need to rethink [about] where a lot of funds and energy are going. It's not just [important to raise] awareness, but [we need to fund] actually helping [the oppressed]. There's not much emphasis on that right now."-Caleb Barrows
'If I Could Speak' has also teamed up with a non-profit ministry called Gracehaven. Gracehaven is a shelter that deals specifically with sex traffick victims. Its set to open in the Fall and will be the third house in the country of its kind.

Caleb Barrows is a Taylor student who supports his dad in the Gracehaven ministry. When asked how someone can help fight sex trafficking, he said to keep in mind,

"If you're looking for something heroic, then you're probably not going to find it; but if you're looking for something tangible and useful, then that's probably going to be very easy to do,"

In February, the Ohio Trafficking in Persons Study Commission released a report ranking Toledo the fourth largest human trafficking city in the country.

The report revealed a number of unusual victims including an estimated 1,078 children that will be forced into the sex trade, 2,879 American-born children ages 12 to 17 that are at-risk for sex trafficking and 2,534 foreign-born people that are expected to be at-risk of being forced into labor or sex trafficking.

The report also sited Toledo for having untrained first responders to address trafficking properly; arresting underage prostitutes and treating them as a criminal instead of the victim; protecting johns with a slap on the wrist or no punishment at all if caught; all while not recognizing human trafficking as a separate felony offense.

In March, just three weeks after the report, State Sen. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo proposed a bill recognizing human traffick as a separate punishable crime. The Senator hopes to get the bill on the governor's desk before summer recess.

With human trafficking now one of the top 3 revenue earners for organized crime (Leach, 2004), it's safe to say that drugs, guns and forced prostitution go hand in hand. Keep in mind that that was an old stat.

I'll end with some of Rachel's advice  ...

 Get informed and do something. Support an organization that you believe in or start a group yourself. And most importantly, PRAY!