COLUMBUS – The justice system is one step closer to helping victims of human trafficking after the Ohio House unanimously passed a bill jointly sponsored by State Representative Andrea White (R-Kettering) and State Representative Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield).
“House Bill 427 will enable our prosecutors to directly pursue legal action against offenders who use drugs and addiction to compel their victims into prostitution or trafficking,” said White. “Current law provides alternatives for the definition of ‘compel’ to include force, fear, duress, intimidation and fraud.”
Drugs and addiction do not neatly fit into these categories, White said, even though traffickers frequently use substances to prey on vulnerable victims. House Bill 427 would expand the current definition of compelling a victim to include offering or furnishing a controlled substance or manipulation of a controlled substance addiction.
“Drugs and addiction are one of the most common ways trafficking victims are controlled,” said White. “One study suggests as high as 84% of sex trafficking survivors reported substance abuse during their victimization.”
Across the globe, there are more than 40 million victims of human trafficking, with hundreds of thousands in the United States. The crimes of human trafficking and prostitution are rampant in Ohio, due in part to our geographic location. Ohio ranked sixth highest in the nations in terms of calls received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
“Right now, today, hundreds of victims in Ohio are being trafficked and coerced into prostitution,” White said. “I thank Attorney General David Yost for bringing the need for this legislation to our attention and I encourage anyone who needs help or knows someone who may be a victim of human trafficking to contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 (TTY:711) or by texting 233733.”
House Bill 427 will now head to the Ohio Senate for further consideration. For more information, please contact White’s office at 614-644-6008.
You can watch White’s House floor speech here.
House Bill 427 will now head to Ohio Senate for further consideration.