State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today hosted the Ninth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day at the Ohio Statehouse, as lawmakers, law enforcement officials, and hundreds of advocates and survivors from across the state gathered to raise awareness and discuss ways to further combat human trafficking in Ohio.
“Over the past decade, we’ve raised awareness and made real progress in the fight against human trafficking, but we can’t rest yet,” said Rep. Fedor. “Each year, this event inspires us to keep fighting—for survivors, for victims and for our children. We must continue to work together to protect our most vulnerable and hold those who prey on them accountable so we can put an end to what amounts to modern day slavery here in Ohio.”
This year’s keynote speaker was Megan Mattimoe, the founder and executive director of Advocating Opportunity, a Toledo-based program that provides assistance for people who have been trafficked or exploited.
“We must continue to listen to survivors, learn from the experts and work together to build on the successes we’ve seen in recent years,” said Rep. Galonski. “By continuing to raise awareness, we move another step closer to protecting the thousands of Ohio children who live at risk of exploitation and trafficking every day.”
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. According to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Information Crime Reports, Ohio has ranked as high as fifth among all states in total reported human trafficking cases.
This year’s event also includes the Second Annual Ohio Youth Trafficking Prevention Summit, which brings together students from across Ohio to discuss prevention and best practices for young people to combat human trafficking. The event will be held tomorrow, Friday, January 12 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Ohio Statehouse.
For 12 years, Rep. Fedor has led the fight against human trafficking in Ohio. She recently introduced House Bill (HB) 461 to protect minors forced into sex trafficking. She was a lead sponsor and played an instrumental role in the passage of the End Demand Act, legislation to address the demand-side of the illegal sex-trafficking trade, as well as the Safe Harbor Act, which centered on protection, prosecution and prevention. While in the Ohio Senate, Fedor led the charge to pass Ohio’s first bill to define human trafficking and make it illegal.
Here is what other House Democratic lawmakers are saying:
“How we work together to stop human trafficking says a lot about who we are as a state,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Families and children can’t have the economic or educational opportunities they deserve until they have a sense of safety and security in our state. I applaud the work we’ve done together to combat human trafficking in Ohio, and I look forward to the renewed fight this year to reclaim our state.”
“I applaud the work of Reps. Fedor and Galonski in ensuring that human trafficking victims remain in the forefront of our minds,” said Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “It’s mind-boggling to know that human beings are treated in such inhumane and degrading ways in our communities, but events like today ensure that awareness and advocacy eliminate modern day slavery.”
“Protecting vulnerable Ohioans against human trafficking should be a top priority for lawmakers,” said Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent). “I stand with Representatives Fedor and Galonski on the Ninth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day.”
“January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month and today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. I am proud to be a co-sponsor on Reps. Fedor and Galonski’s legislation that will add protections for children who are victimized by this crime,” said Rep. John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake). “The sexual exploitation of children and others is devastating to everyone involved."
“Because of the efforts of people like Rep. Fedor and our state legislature, we have made significant progress slowing the scourge of human trafficking,” said Rep. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus), the opening speaker at the event. “However, the fact remains: we need everyone working together, with real resources behind them, to better protect our children and communities, and to end this modern day slavery once and for all.”
“I applaud Reps. Galonski and Fedor for their work on today’s program and their tireless effort to end human trafficking in Ohio,” said Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus). “We have raised awareness and understanding, now we are putting pen to paper and working with all stakeholders to make the law work for victims, law enforcement, communities and those on the front lines combating human trafficking and the damage it inflicts.”
“Human trafficking destroys lives, families and futures everywhere in our state, and the Mahoning Valley is no exception,” said Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland). “It is important that we have events like these to bring awareness to the scope of this terrible practice, hear the stories of victims and work to break the cycle of trafficking in our communities.”
“I am pleased that my colleagues have graciously moved forward with this tremendous effort to make all Ohioans aware of the devastation caused by Human Trafficking. This is an issue we must all fight,” said Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati).
“Human Trafficking Awareness Day is an excellent reminder of the progress we’ve made, the work we have ahead of us, and the bravery and strength of those people spearheading our efforts to combat human trafficking here in Ohio and around the country,” said Rep. Glenn Holmes (D-McDonald). “There is no doubt in my mind that we will end this scourge once and for all.”