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Victim Services Lacking in Human-Trafficking

Monday, June 28, 2010 @ 01:06 PM Karen Hood

Excerpt from, “Report: Victim services lacking in human-trafficking cases”. The Columbus Dispatch. By Alan Johnson. June 10, 2010–A story of a 14-year-old girl from rural Ohio might sound like the plot of a bad movie, but it’s a real-life human-trafficking horror story. The girl was befriended by an older man who plunged her into sex trafficking in a nearby city. When she was arrested in a hotel with another older man, police charged her with a curfew offense that was a probation violation and sent her to a juvenile-detention center. The “john” and the trafficker were not charged. Advocates said the girl’s tragic story, recounted at a meeting of the Ohio Trafficking in Persons Study Commission yesterday, underlines a critical need for services for sex- and labor-trafficking victims. The commission convened by Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray nearly a year ago said the state should pro! p up inadequate victim services by spending $4million to hire specially trained case managers, establishing 10 residential-treatment programs across the state, and training law-enforcement and social-service personnel.
“These stories – and there are thousands out there – are tragic,” Cordray said. “Each case represents a failure in our system. … I strongly urge local law enforcement and victim advocates to work in tandem with our program to confront modern slavery. In its third major report, the multi-agency commission concluded that trafficking-victim services are woefully inadequate or completely absent. For example, the state has no residential treatment facilities (one is planned to open in the Columbus area this fall), and only five agencies in Ohio provide specific services to trafficking victims.

Dr. Jeff Barrows, a commission member and the founder of Gracehaven, the Columbus-area residential program scheduled to open this fall, said such programs should receive first priority. The task force suggested that funding could come from federal victims-assistance programs, the U.S. Justice Department, programs for victims of crime and violence against women, private foundations, churches and the public. The panel also called for improving services to victims provided by emergency first-responders, building anti-trafficking coalitions across the state, and offering trauma therapy and legal assistance. The commission previously estimated that more than 1,000 children younger than 18 were sex-trafficking victims in Ohio in the past year and that thousands more, particularly runaways, are at risk. Nearly 800 foreign-born people were trafficked for sex or forced labor in Ohio, and 3,437 were at risk, the commission reported.

Jeffrey J. Barrows, D.O., M.A. (Bioethics) Health Consultant, Human Trafficking Christian Medical Association Founder & Executive Director, Gracehaven Director and Christian Trafficking Shelter Assoc: “This report highlights the large gap that exists in providing services specific to victims of human trafficking. In preparation of the report, we looked around the state of Ohio to see what services specific for trafficking victims exist, and we found very few, in spite of over 2000 estimated trafficking victims in Ohio. This is the case generally around the country. One of the major services that is lacking is long term residential treatment for victims of domestic minor sex trafficking, the most common type of trafficking victim within both Ohio, and the United States overall.

“Currently, there are only a handful of programs in the U.S. that provide services specific for this population, and none in Ohio. However, it’s interesting that in the latest Trafficking in Persons Report just released by the U.S. State Department, in which the United States rated itself for the first time, the U.S. gave itself the equivalent of an A. While we have very strong federal laws in place, we clearly must improve our ability to provide care for the trafficking victims that are within our midst. Our work at Gracehaven is moving ahead slowly, with the renovation of the house underway. Lord willing, our goal is to be open to accept girls who are victims of domestic minor sex trafficking by the end of this calendar year.”

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