Globally, there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking.
International Labour Organization
By Liz Hardaway
Today, contemporary slavers coerce, deceive or abduct 20.9 million people for their own profit. Almost 4.5 million of these victims are children.
Human trafficking comes in two forms: sex and labor. Present day slavery is no small thing, with estimates indicating it is a $150 billion industry worldwide. Labor trafficking is more prevalent worldwide with 68 percent of total trafficked persons being forced into labor, according to the International Labour Organization. Forced labor includes harsh, dangerous and tedious work just about anywhere, from a Chinese sweatshop to a mega chicken farm operation in Marion, Ohio.
Almost 28 percent of the cases reported to the national hotline came from Ohio, including 277 cases of sex trafficking and 42 cases of labor trafficking.
Today nearly twice the number of people are enslaved as there were in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the period between the 15th and 19th centuries in which Africans were abducted and forced on dangerous voyages across the Atlantic where they were sold and exploited in the New World.
“Just because a certain abuse has taken place in the past doesn’t mean that we have to tolerate that abuse in the future,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in a letter for the Trafficking in Persons Report for June 2016.
Those involved in the modern slave trade are careful and work hard to ensure their victims blend into society. Those waitresses serving a rotisserie chicken, farmhands tediously husking corn or women meticulously painting and buffing nails during a Sunday rush could be victims -- human commodities chained to their situation through physical and emotional abuse.
It's common for victims to feel as though they are trapped, with little or no choice.
An interactive map of Central Ohio showing places where human trafficking has taken place, safe havens for victims and other locations.
Typically, victims are paid little if any money, forced to stay with their captor, mistreated and stripped of any natural freedom.
About 73 percent of the 7,572 human trafficking cases reported to the National Trafficking Hotline in 2016 were involved in prostitution. The most common venues for sex trafficking are motels, commercial-front brothels such as massage parlors and through online advertisements.
The purveyors of the contemporary slave trade traumatized their victims by forcing them to perform multiple nonconsensual sexual acts, piling on mountains of work and making them work constantly with little rest.
And the victimizers can come from every walk of life, whether it be a trustworthy “boyfriend” or a “boss” who offers the “job of a lifetime.
Captors typically force their victims to ingest drugs to get them addicted and continue to physically and mentally abuse them until a victim feels completely defenseless and dependent. Survivors often must endure years of therapy and treatment to gain back their sense of self-worth.
Lawmakers attempted to combat this issue in June of 2016 by passing Ohio House Bill 262 which increased criminal penalties for ‘pimps’ and ‘johns’, yet Ohio still remains the fourth largest hub for human trafficking in the United States.
Fast Facts about human trafficking in Ohio.
Video made by Alanna Henderson
“Today we are reaching those who are truly in the shadows … to seek justice for the exploited,” said Elizabeth Ranade Janis, the anti-human trafficking coordinator for Ohio, which appeared in the Governor’s Human Trafficking Task Force Report for 2017.