Human Trafficking is at an Alarming Rate in this Ohio City

Human trafficking is a serious crime in which people are exploited for labor or sexual exploitation by force, deception, or compulsion. According to the US Department of State, human trafficking is a modern form of slavery that affects millions of people around the world, including those in the United States.

Ohio stands out as one of the states with the highest amount of recorded human trafficking instances in the US, ranking fifth. Ohio has the fourth-worst human trafficking rate in the nation, with 3.84 victims per 100,000 population.

Toledo: The Human Trafficking Hub of Ohio

Human Trafficking is at an Alarming Rate in this Ohio City

Toledo, located in Ohio’s northwest corner on the borders of Michigan and Indiana, stands out among the state’s cities for having the largest number of documented human trafficking occurrences.

Toledo, with a population of around 276,000, is Ohio’s fourth-largest city.

Toledo, dubbed the “human trafficking hub” by some experts and advocates, is a national leader in this subject.

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Toledo had 148 human trafficking cases in 2020, accounting for more than 10% of all instances in the state.

Toledo also had the fourth-highest number of contacts to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2019.

Factors that make Toledo a hotspot for human trafficking:

Human Trafficking is at an Alarming Rate in this Ohio City

Toledo is a hotspot for human trafficking due to a variety of reasons.

  • One of them is its location, which provides easy access to major thoroughfares connecting adjacent states and cities, such as I-75, I-80, and I-90. Traffickers might relocate their victims across state lines and abuse them in new markets.
  • The city’s socioeconomic circumstances are also important, as they create a populace that is vulnerable to human traffickers. Toledo has a higher unemployment rate, lower educational attainment, and a higher poverty rate than the state and national norms.
  • People may grow desperate for opportunities as a result of these conditions, making them more vulnerable to false offers of jobs, money, or love.
  • A third factor is the city’s need for commercial sex, which fuels the sex trafficking industry. According to study conducted by the University of Toledo, 11,000 men pay around $6.5 million per year for sex in Toledo.
  • The study also showed that the majority of Toledo’s prostitutes are African American women from low-income families, with an average age of 13 when they entered the trade.

Official Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking in Toledo

To combat human trafficking in Toledo, law enforcement, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and community groups have launched a variety of activities. These efforts include the following:

Human Trafficking is at an Alarming Rate in this Ohio City
  1. The Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition was established as a collaborative team of partners dedicated to preventing, identifying, and responding to human trafficking in the county.
  2. Implementation of the Ohio Safe Harbor Law, which provides legal protection and resources to young victims of human trafficking while increasing penalties for traffickers and sex buyers.
  3. The Lucas County Human Trafficking Court was established as a specialty court that provides diversion and therapy programs for adult human trafficking victims facing prostitution-related charges.
  4. Establishment of the RISE Program, a residential facility that provides shelter, counseling, education, and life skills to female human trafficking survivors aged 18–24.
  5. The Not in My Town campaign, a public awareness and education program, was launched with the goal of raising awareness about human trafficking in Toledo and mobilizing the community to resist it.

To conclude

Many people in Toledo, Ohio, and abroad are affected by the complex and widespread issue of human trafficking. It is an infringement on human rights and dignity that necessitates a comprehensive and unified response. Together, we can endeavor to put an end to contemporary slavery and restore victims’ freedom and justice.


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