31 July 2009
The report notes three areas of concern with greater Cincinnati's readiness to deal with the issue:
-- Lack of awareness about the problem both in the general public and among people who deal with it, such as police officers, judges and first responders
-- Inadequate legislation
-- Lack of training to help law enforcement identify victims.
"Unfortunately, slavery continues to persist around the world and here at home," said Donald Murphy, the Freedom Center's Chief Executive Officer. "Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery in which individuals -- even children -- are forced to work or provide services under the threat of violence or psychological manipulation, and victims come from all economic classes and ethnic groups."
More than 90% of the report's interviewees say they are aware of trafficking happening locally, and just under half said they or their organizations have encountered victims directly. The report does not state the exact number of confirmed cases in the area, but it does note that many cases go undocumented.
"Trafficking cases are underreported both locally and nationally," said Deborah Lydon, an attorney from Dinsmore & Shohl who helped spearhead the study. "Our first responders and social service providers acknowledged that they need better training to identify cases."
In addition to inadequate training, the report says that existing laws and regulations covering trafficking are not streamlined and often come with weak penalties. States in our region also treat the crime differently: In Kentucky and Indiana, trafficking is a distinct crime, but in Ohio, it's not.
The report offers two main conclusions for how the region should prepare for dealing with human trafficking: Focus on public awareness and training, and use benchmark statutes from other cities that would define trafficking as a crime.
The Freedom Center was assisted on the project by more than 30 volunteers in the community including attorneys, law students, paralegals, and individuals from non-profit organizations interested in justice issues.
FACTS ABOUT HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Human trafficking is defined as a modern form of slavery in which adults and children are forced into physical labor or commercial sex, using threats of violence or psychological manipulation.
The U.S. State Department estimates that up to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year, including 17,500 people who are trafficked into the United States.
The International Labor Organization claims that trafficking is the world's second-most popular criminal activity, generating more than $32 billion annually.
LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION ABOUT HUMAN TRAFFICKING
http://www.state.gov/g/tip (U.S. State Department)
SOURCE National Underground Railroad Freedom Center