By Cody Hefner
Human trafficking is portrayed in films as a singular, unquestionably wicked act, easily identified but far from the cities and neighborhoods of Ohio. But this modern-day slavery is much more subtle and much closer. Ohio ranks fourth in the nation in human trafficking cases, with over 300 cases reported, with many more going unreported. A new addition to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s Invisible: Slavery Today gallery will help guests understand what human trafficking looks like in Ohio and provide resources to become involved in stopping it as modern-day abolitionists. The “Shine a Light” addition will open November 9.
“Shine a Light” is a new interactive experience that invites guests to explore the space, literally shining a light on ordinary scenes to reveal information about human trafficking in Ohio. Pastoral streets with storefronts, bus stops and telephone poles belie the shockingly ordinary nature of human trafficking. However, shining a flashlight on the walls reveals information about a human trafficking victim – including where they’re from, when they were first trafficked and the circumstances in which they were trafficked – and triggers audio recordings of survivors describing their experiences. Additional reveals include statistics: the rate of human trafficking in Ohio is 3.84 victims per 100,000 residents; 97% of the criminal human trafficking cases on the federal level in Ohio are sex trafficking; the second most common form of labor trafficking in the US, after domestic work, is traveling sales crews. Definitions of forms of trafficking are also included.
“Human trafficking is a nefarious and dangerously misunderstood, underreported threat to freedom” said Woodrow Keown, Jr., President and COO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “Education is a powerful weapon in this fight against modern-day slavery, for both victims and abolitionists. We hope our ‘Shine a Light’ experience will engage guests to learn more about human trafficking so they can be vigilant, identify cases when they see them and act to save lives and liberate survivors.”
Those who believe they are a victim of human trafficking or believe they know someone in danger can call the national human trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733 anytime.
The Freedom Center partners with End Slavery Now initiative to combat human trafficking and modern-day slavery. End Slavery Now provides education, resources, contacts and ways for individuals to act to end modern-day slavery.