State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) hosted the Eighth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day today at the Ohio Statehouse, as lawmakers, law enforcement officials, advocates and survivors from across the state and nation gathered for a day of discussion on ways to raise awareness and fight back against human trafficking in Ohio.
“While we have made great strides at the state level to halt the spread of human trafficking, we cannot let up now. Law enforcement, advocates, families and survivors must continue to work together to raise awareness and protect vulnerable men and women from being ensnared by modern day slavery,” said Fedor. “I am confident that by bringing diverse voices from all across the state to the same table, we can make positive progress toward finally ending human trafficking in our state.”
This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Elaine Richardson, an author, artist, Ohio State University professor and human trafficking survivor.
Human trafficking is estimated to affect 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, with Toledo ranking as the fourth highest city in the nation for recruiting victims into the illegal trade.
This year’s event will also include the first ever Ohio Youth Trafficking Prevention Summit focused on prevention and protection strategies for young people tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 3 from 9:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M.
“We can all agree that to protect our young people from becoming victims of human trafficking, we must educate them on prevention and protection strategies,” said Fedor. “Through events like the Youth Trafficking Prevention Summit we also have the opportunity to prepare the next generation of advocates and activists to pick up the torch and continue the fight against human trafficking into the future.”
The youth summit is free to attend but tickets are required. Those interested can register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/8th-annual-ohio-human-trafficking-awareness-day-youth-summit-tickets-28770533440
For the past ten years, Rep. Fedor has been a leading advocate in the fight to end human trafficking. Most recently, Rep. Fedor passed legislation to address the demand-side of the illegal sex trafficking trade, End Demand Act, Sub. H.B. 130. In 2012, the General Assembly passed Rep. Fedor’s Safe Harbor Act— a victim centered bill aimed at providing protection, prosecution and prevention. And, while in the Senate, Fedor passed Ohio’s first bill to define human trafficking and make it illegal, Senate Bill 235.
Editor’s note: photos from today’s event are attached. In Photo 1: Rep. Teresa Fedor updates attendees on state progress in fight against human trafficking. Photo 2: House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn gives welcoming remarks at Eighth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Photo 3: Ohioans from all across the state gather at Statehouse for Eighth Annual Human Trafficking Day.
Here is what other House Democratic Lawmakers are saying:
“The community gathered at the Statehouse today is the community we need if we want a real chance at ending modern day slavery. We will only be successful in our efforts if we marshal the collective strength of the entire community and address human trafficking from every angle and at every turn,” said Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “I want to thank Rep. Fedor for her tireless work, both here at the Statehouse and out in the community, against human trafficking in Ohio. Throughout her legislative career, Rep. Fedor has been the leading advocate against modern day slavery and has championed numerous measures that have been passed and enacted with bipartisan support and are now making a real difference in people’s lives.”
“Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Rep. Fedor and countless others around the state, we are making significant progress and offering concrete solutions to end modern day slavery in Ohio,” said Rep. Thomas E. West (D-Canton). “Moving forward, we must ensure law enforcement officials and advocates have the proper resources and support that they need to protect victims and end the scourge of human trafficking.”
“I am proud to see so many people from across the state come together to engage in an open dialogue about how to end human trafficking here in Ohio,” said Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon). “This annual event is a powerful reminder that we all need to stay committed in the fight against modern day slavery in our state and across the nation.”
“Sadly, in 2017 we still live in a world where humans are exploited on a daily basis through human trafficking,” said Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson). “While we have indeed made great strides in combatting the scourge of modern day slavery, we still have much work to do to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable Ohioans – and I stand ready to do my part as an Ohio lawmaker. I applaud the efforts of those who organized this important day of awareness and hope that together we can bring an end to this abomination once and for all.”
Democratic lawmakers today called on the Governor John Kasich to recognize the devastating opioid addiction epidemic for what it is: a public health emergency. At a statehouse press conference this morning the lawmakers said the state must have a strong, unified response and release emergency state funding to combat the statewide opioid crisis that is claiming lives in rural areas and urban centers alike.
“The first step in any road to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, and it’s time for the administration to recognize the opioid addiction crisis as the public health emergency that it is,” said Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron). “Too many Ohio families are losing loved ones to drug addiction and overdoses. We must marshal all available state resources and attention to fight back against this rapidly growing threat to our communities.”
State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron), today responded to Gov. John Kasich’s Thursday comments at the Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative and the state’s actions to combat the opioid epidemic. The governor’s optimistic comments came on the same day the Ohio Department of Health released the report on 2015 Ohio Drug Overdose Data stating fentanyl-related drug overdoses more than doubled from 2014 to 2015. And the numbers continue to climb. For July 2016, Summit County alone experienced an estimated 395 overdoses, which matched the total number of overdoses in the county for the four months prior combined.*
“State leaders still refuse to call the opioid epidemic what it is: a public health crisis,” said Johnson. “It is imperative we remain hopeful and positive, but only if we are also employing all available resources to the law enforcement officers and treatment providers on the front lines. There has yet to be a coherent, statewide response to this devastating public health crisis that is killing more Ohioans than ever before. Summit County is doing a tremendous job at treating and preventing overdoses in my district, but with greater funding and direction from the state, we could be doing far more.”
State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today announced a new plan to assist struggling communities hit hardest by Governor Kasich’s budget cuts and tax shifting policies over the past several years. Since taking office, Gov. Kasich cut over $1.7 billion in local community funding. Over 70 cities have lost at least $1 million each year due to Kasich’s budgeting and tax decisions, and 12 small cities have lost at least $2 million each, per year.
Ohio House Democratic members hosted a press conference today to speak out against the recent attacks on women’s access to healthcare. Led by State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron), the lawmakers introduced a package of bills aimed at securing and expanding women’s access to comprehensive healthcare services.
WATCH Rep. Johnson deliver her powerful closing above.