Human trafficking not just in foreign countries

Written by: Alexandra Didato

“Human trafficking” is a phrase that has long been associated with foreign nations. But it is an issue that continues to be a problem in the United States, and it is an imposing threat to our youth in Ohio.

According to hubpages.com, a research committee performed a six-month critical analysis of information from news releases and law enforcement. The committee found that both sex trafficking and labor trafficking exist in Ohio. The findings conclude that victims of sex and labor trafficking in Ohio were born in the United States, as well as in foreign nations.

According to the committee, it is predicted that 3,437 foreign-born persons in Ohio may be at risk for both labor and sex trade trafficking. Of those people, 783 are estimated to be trafficked into the labor or sex trade in Ohio.

The research team also estimates that among Ohio’s native adolescents, 2,879 are at risk for sex trafficking and another 1,078 have been trafficked into the sex trade over the course of a year.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), “Human trafficking is the world’s fastest-growing criminal enterprise and is already tied with arms-dealing as the world’s second-largest illegal industry (drug-dealing takes first place).”

The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime estimates that at any given moment, 2.5 million people are being trafficked.

Luckily, organizations all over Ohio — such as the Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition, the Polaris Project, the Salvation Army, and Rahab Ministries — are all fighting human trafficking.

Rahab Ministries, located in Akron, is a nonprofit organization that consists of volunteers who devote their time and attention to helping women who have been affected and victimized by prostitution.

While some may not view prostitution as a form of sex trafficking, HHS has detected a correlation between the two. In a study, they found that minors are deceived, manipulated, forced or coerced into prostitution every day.

“Nationally, the average age at which girls first become exploited through prostitution is 12–14 years old,” the study said.

Rahab Ministries offers multiple services and outreaches to women. These include bible study, prepared meals, a clothing closet, transportation, and one-on-one therapeutic talks. Volunteers also visit them on the streets where they work and send cards and letters to women who are incarcerated.

Becky Moreland, the founder of Rahab Ministries, said that it’s not just the volunteers who are impacting the women; the women are impacting the volunteers as well.

“These are such strong women we see and minister to,” Moreland said. “The experiences and events that they’ve been through are remarkable. We learn so much from them.”

Moreland founded Rahab Ministries after someone helped her out of a rough, dark place in her life. She said the person showed her that she was truly valuable, and treasured, as a physical being.

“As a result of that gift in my life, God gave me a passion for other women,” Moreland said. “To show them the treasure that they are, in light of the lies they have come to believe.”

Rahab Ministries is always looking for and accepting new volunteers who have an interest in coming and helping with any of its outreaches. For more information on Rahab’s services, or to learn how to get involved, you can visit their website at www.rahab-ministries.org.