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Government & Politics

Ohio Leaders Are Helping To Advocate For Human Trafficking Survivors

2019_human_trafficking_awareness_day_wide_above_angle_022819_-_chow.jpg
ANDY CHOW
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Hundreds of people gathered in Columbus for 2019 Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Hundreds of people gathered in Columbus Thursday to discuss the most pressing issues related to human trafficking in Ohio. 

Advocates, law enforcement, attorneys and human trafficking survivors filled the Ohio Statehouse atrium for the 10th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness conference.

State Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) started the event with just a few dozen people. Now more than 400 attend.

She said success can be measured by the ideas and best practices that are shared throughout the day. “Bring everyone together and comb through the aspect of their policy, their procedures, and think of a trafficking victim, and can they service them? Can they rescue them? Provide restoration and help them get back to a life worth living in America.”

Groups from different backgrounds and professions have tables set up to share what they’re doing to help survivors of human trafficking.

That includes Theresa Flores of Columbus. She created “Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution” or S.O.A.P. Her group prints the number for the human trafficking hotline on bars of soap and distributes them to hotels and motels.

Flores is a survivor of human trafficking herself. She was living in the suburbs when her predator got a hold of her. She said human trafficking is in every zip code. “We just as a society have to get better at recognizing the signs and having a plan in place of what are we going to do if we see something.”

Fedor said she hopes the conference will help inform legislators as they move forward with new laws. That includes getting tougher on the predators who buy and sell trafficking victims.

Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) was also a sponsor of the event.