MANSFIELD, Ohio — Human trafficking doesn’t discriminate.

“This is not a poverty issue,” said Mark Lovely, director of relations and awareness with Humanitarian Solutions. “This is not a third-world country thing. This is a right-downtown, in-your-face, nicest-areas-in-Ohio thing.”

Lovely spoke Friday at the Salvation Army during a sex trafficking informational meeting.

Susi Maiyer, an Ambassador of Hope with Shared Hope International, said the goal of the meeting was to raise awareness on human trafficking. Those in attendance were government officials, law enforcement personnel, church leaders and representatives of various community organizations.

“You are the people that might come in contact with a victim and never know,” she told the crowd.

Attendees were given a packet of material on human trafficking statistics, warning signs, common myths, along with information on how they can help combat this crime.

Lovely said it’s especially important for the youth to be informed about human trafficking.

To help cultivate an awareness, Lovely has teamed with filmmaker Gunther Meisse, who recently created a 30-minute documentary on human trafficking, “Shadow on the Heartland.”

The two are working together to help distribute the documentary–which includes accounts from several advocates of those trafficked, elected officials, and even a former pimp–to schools throughout the state.

The documentary states that sex trafficking occurs when someone is tricked into performing commercial sex through force, fraud or coercion, adding that it’s the fastest growing crime in the world.

The average age of a victim in Ohio is 13.

“I hope this will show you how important it is that our young kids are trained and educated that this is happening,” Maiyer said about the video after it was shown at the meeting.

In the future, Maiyer said she would like to host more meetings to continue to raise awareness and help train people on how they can help fight this problem.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *