COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — The fight against human trafficking in Ohio has been underway for well over a decade. This week, that fight continued at the statehouse.
Most of the efforts toward ending human trafficking have been to crack down on the supply side. Now, lawmakers are setting their sights on the other side of the equation — demand.
Ohio State Sen. Teresa Fedor’s anti-human trafficking bill brings Ohio in line with federal laws aimed at people who traffic minors. Right now, in Ohio, convicting someone accused of human trafficking a 16- or 17-year-old is much harder than if they are trafficking children 15 and younger. Ohio would be the last state to make this change.
“This is has been a struggle,” Fedor (D-Toledo) said. “I know that it is now something that is on everybody’s radar and I’m very glad about that, but there’s so much more to do.”
More to do, like shift their focus to those who are demanding the service in the first place.
“Frankly, I’m hoping that the shame is gonna keep people from trying to buy sex in Ohio,” said state Attorney General David Yost.
Yost joined several Republican lawmakers to introduce legislation that would, among other things, create a public registry of people who’ve bought sex.
“We’re hoping for a change in world view, a change in attitude, a change in behavior,” Yost said.
Fedor was not included in the creation of this legislation and some took notice of that. Still, she said, this is the kind of thing she supports.
“We need to make sure that the people who are behind this crime are the ones who are highlighted,” Fedor said.
Fedor said she hopes this does not become a partisan issue because all of the good work that has already been done in her 14 years fighting to end human trafficking has come through collaboration.