COLUMBUS –State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) hosted the Fifth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day today at the Columbus Statehouse. The event brought action to a problem that has plagued Ohio for decades, with the State of Ohio announcing plans for a statewide campaign targeted at raising awareness and connecting the public with resources to stop human trafficking. It was also announced that the Ohio Senate would begin to hold committee hearings on Rep. Fedor’s End Demand Act—HB 130—next week. The bill passed the House last June.
“Over the last eight years, we worked together and played a valuable role in building our coalition to fight against human trafficking in Ohio,” said Rep. Teresa Fedor. “I want to thank the countless partners who joined with me to fight this heinous crime of modern-day slavery. With all that we still must do, let us continue to marshal our collective will and partnerships to prevent human trafficking and protect our most vulnerable, now and in the future.”
Advocates and activists from all over the nation spent the day discussing ways to raise awareness and fight back against human trafficking in Ohio. Attendees were able to participate in break-out panels focused on law enforcement and social work topics, with a portion of the afternoon reserved for human trafficking survivors to share their experiences.
The event’s keynote speaker was Theresa Flores, human trafficking survivor and founder of Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (SOAP). SOAP distributes bars of soap wrapped with a red band that gives the National Human Trafficking Hotline number and key identifying questions to high-risk motels and high-demand national sporting events. Other special guests and participants included Ohio Senator Peggy Lehner; Ohio Human Trafficking Coordinator Elizabeth Ranade-Janis; Former CEO of Procter & Gamble and Founding Counselor for the Global Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking John Pepper Jr.; Judges Paul Herbert and Greg Singer; U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart; Director of the Attorney General’s Division of Children’s Initiatives Melinda Sykes; and human trafficking survivors.
Rep. Fedor has been a longtime champion of human trafficking awareness and organizes the annual event to bring light to this important issue and enact change in the state of Ohio. Human trafficking affects more than 1,000 Ohio children every year, and more than 3,000 Ohio children are considered to be at high risk for trafficking.