Eliminating Sex Slavery in Ohio

Girls less than 12 years old are being brutalized by the predators who operate the illicit sex trade in Ohio.

Think about that: Children who ought to be playing with dolls, whose preoccupation ought to be with school work, hobbies, friends and family are being forced into prostitution in the Buckeye State. They suffer enormous psychological damage, in addition to the probability they will contract serious, possibly life-threatening diseases.

Yes, the shadowy world of human trafficking is difficult to locate, much less stop. And yes, obtaining convictions in cases in which young prostitutes are afraid to testify against pimps is exceedingly challenging. But surely Ohioans can do something about human trafficking. Surely.

Gov. John Kasich has made an offensive against human trafficking one of his administration’s top priorities. First on the list of tasks in that campaign was learning more about the extent of the problem.

It is a serious, sobering situation. The state Human Trafficking Commission has released a report based on three years of investigation, including interviews with 328 victims of organized sex predation. Women -and girls – in Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Cleveland and Toledo were part of the study.

It found 115 of the 328 victims who talked to investigators were forced into the sex trade when they were less than 18 years of age. More than a dozen were under 12 when they entered lives more miserable, terrifying, humiliating and dangerous than most of us can comprehend.

Commission investigators learned much about how women and girls are coerced or forced into the sex trade. And, based on what they were told by victims who agreed to talk, they concluded the problem is an enormous one. More than 1,000 children are involved each year, the commission found.

Again, this cannot be allowed to continue. We know what the problem is. Now it is time – long, long past it, in fact – to take decisive action in every way that may help, including against the “johns” who pay for sex with children.