CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) – More and more people are now at risk of human trafficking since the coronavirus pandemic struck last year, the US State Department recently warned.
Many victims of human trafficking have been exploited during their most difficult times.
As recently as last week, an Akron hotel worker was indicted in connection with an alleged human trafficking operation, which led to the discovery of five victims.
This is just one of the more recent human trafficking cases here in Northeast Ohio.
“While most people don’t think it’s happening here, we know it’s happening and it’s happening day in and day out right in front of us. Sometimes it’s very hard to see, ”said Sarah Trimble, director of external affairs for the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.
19 Investigations have found that northern Ohio ranks in the top 10 for most felons charged in federal human trafficking cases last year, according to the Human Trafficking Institute.
Ohio ranked fifth in the country for all reported human trafficking cases.
But a new approach could bring in more survivors.
Any building on East 105th Street and Superior Avenue in Cleveland is now a “safe place”.
The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center Human Trafficking Center just opened in March.
“We are here to meet people where they are when they need us and we hope that anyone who has been a victim of labor and sex trafficking will consult us even if only for a short time. shower. Even for a cup of coffee, ”Trimble said.
19 Investigators visited the reception center, where survivors can get food and a place to rest, do their laundry or get help looking for a job.
The most common way for police to learn about human trafficking cases in the past year was self-report by a survivor.
Breaking up can be difficult, but that’s not where their challenges end.
This drop-in center can be there for survivors every step of the way.
“If someone is seeking justice through the justice system, they can come here and get a free plea. If someone needs help with their basic needs, they can come here and get case management services, put them in touch with temporary housing, or more permanent housing than some of the shelters they are in. Trimble said.
We have found that more than a dozen survivors of trafficking have stopped at the center so far.
Lawyers said it was a monumental feat compared to what they had seen at similar agencies.
And there is no pressure for engagement from the survivors who use their services.
The reception center operates thanks to donations. If you wish to help, they will take new clothes, shoes, underwear, toiletries, old cell phones and chargers.
You can also donate money to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center and direct it to the Human Trafficking Drop-in Center.
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