Ohio Governor John Kasich signs the human trafficking bill at Toledo Area Ministries in Toledo, Oho
My first encounter with the problem of human trafficking came in the Chiang Mai region of Northern Thailand. While tracing the origin of adolescent girls who had sought treatment for sexually transmitted diseases in clinics associated with the World Health Organisation in Thailand, a story emerged. Many of these girls were from the remote farmland area that surrounds the city of Chiang Mai. Agents who represented themselves as educational institute recruiters would approach parents with offers of schooling for their daughters in any one of a number of careers including office work. The parents would be shown colorful brochures and would receive a payment if they would sign a document that purported to be parental consent for their daughters to attend a training academy for young girls. The girls would leave the farm and never be seen by their parents again. In fact, they were being recruited for the sex trade in Bangkok.
In West Africa, a similar story unfolded. In this case the girls were being promised pay for work in good homes where they would be well cared for. The parents would be told that the homeowners the young girls would work for would treat them like their own daughters and see that they received a good education. Some small payment would be given to the parents, and the daughters would leave their parents' home, and few would ever see their parents again. These girls would spend the rest of their young lives in a state of domestic servitude.
Human trafficking, however, is not by any means confined to very poor areas of the developing world.
In England, a sex trafficking ring was uncovered involving young girls from the Philippines as well as Eastern Europe, lured to the UK with promises of jobs or educational opportunities. And, as various international agencies and national police forces began to compare notes the realisation was unavoidable that the sex trafficking trade is a global problem.
Neither the United States in general nor the State of Ohio specifically has been spared the tragedy that is human trafficking. It exists in cities and in rural towns and villages, among the very poor and among the very rich.
The bill signed by Governor John Kasich is an important first step in combating human trafficking in our state.
In addition to establishing the Human Trafficking Task Force and Commission, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced recently that his department has consolidated some 5000 unsolved murder cases in Ohio into a single data base. This in itself is a significant step towards the solution of some of the unsolved murder cases.
What may prove enlightening is when enough is known about the unsolved murders and unidentified remains data bases to allow for the correlation of that information with the register of missing persons. It can be assumed reasonably that some presumed missing persons are in fact unsolved homicides. And, while there is reason to believe some missing persons are very likely deceased, there is insufficient information to officially categorize them as such.
The Elite Serial Crime Unit of the FBI estimates that there are between 50 and 100 active serial killers operating in the United States today. Serial killers often kill 2 to three victims and then lie dormant for a period of time before resuming their killing sprees.
In addition, with the aid of modern forensics some light can be shed upon the number of those on either the missing persons register when and if they are found or in the unsolved murder cases data base that may have been coerced into the shadowy world of the human trafficker.