DeWine asks public to open eyes to human trafficking

January 13, 2012

By MARC KOVAC

Dix Capital Bureau

COLUMBUS — Attorney General Mike DeWine is asking for the public’s help in cracking down on human trafficking.

DeWine said Ohioans should be on the lookout for warning signs of forced labor, prostitution or other exploitation — sleeping bags or other indications that employees are forced to live where they work, older men checking into multiple rooms in hotels with multiple young women or workers who appear to be “exceptionally young” or afraid.

“All of this is just common sense, and what we’re doing today is asking the public to open their eyes,” DeWine said. “We would ask people of the state of Ohio who see things they think are suspicious to call the attorney general’s office, to call the BCI hotline (at 855-224-6446).”

DeWine made the comments Thursday during opening comments as part of Human Trafficking Day, which include panel discussions and speeches on the issue. The event was organized, in part, by state Rep. Teresa Fedor, a Democrat from Toledo who has been active in drawing attention to trafficking and who has introduced legislation to combat the problem.

Most recently, Fedor offered House Bill 262, the Safe Harbor Act, which would provide assistance to children trapped by human traffickers.

“When a minor is being sexually exploited, that minor is often arrested on prostitution charges and is sent to jail,” Fedor said in a released statement. “Quite simply, this does not solve the problem. If the arrested minor is instead provided with needed services to recover, that minor will be able to break the cycle of abuse and become a contributing member of society. Without some form of intervention, 77 percent of sexually exploited youth simply continue to be prostitutes in adulthood.”

Last year, DeWine’s office, picking up where his predecessor, Democratic Attorney General Richard Cordray, left off, relaunched a statewide commission that is working on trafficking issues.

He used his appearance at Thursday’s event at the Statehouse to urge Ohioans to add their voices to the fight.

“We need your help,” DeWine said. “We need you to give us tips. We need you to come to us and tell us what you’re seeing on the ground in your communities. We cannot go out and conduct investigations, we cannot go out and prosecute cases if we don’t have information. We rely to a great extent on the public and that is the way it is.”

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

Original Story here: http://www.the-daily-record.com/news/article/5145955

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