“Can you tell me how a 13-year-old kid can be snatched, blackmailed, drugged, raped, in our state? In our country?”
That’s the question Ohio Gov. John Kasich asked audiences Thursday before signing an executive order to create the Human Trafficking Task Force, which is intended to combat human trafficking across the state and help victims recover.
“I don’t think I can think of a greater evil than what we know as the human slave trade,” said Kasich, before signing the order.
A 2010 study conducted by the Trafficking in Persons Study Commission revealed that about 1,000 American-born children are forced into sex trade in Ohio every year, while about 800 immigrants fall victim to human trafficking, either through sexual exploitation or manipulation into hard labor.
Kasich’s executive order will give the task force 90 days to examine Ohio’s current ability to identify victims. The board of the task force will be comprised of representatives from youth prisons, public safety departments, state health and human services and the state Cosmetology Board (some trafficking is suspected in nail salons, which the Cosmetology Board oversees).
“They’ll tell me where the holes are, but we have lot more work to do,” Kasich said. “We need everybody in America to step in on this.”
Ohio is suspected to be a major player in the U.S. human trafficking industry because of its large immigrant population, proximity to Canada and growing demand for cheap labor in light of difficult economic times, according to the 2010 Trafficking in Persons report.
There’s currently no state funding set aside for the task force; the task will work hand-in-hand with Attorney General Mike DeWine's Human Trafficking Commission to buffer already existing efforts.
At any given point in time, an estimated 2.5 million people across the world are subjects of forced labor (including sexual exploitation) as a result of human trafficking.