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AG Yost’s Annual Human Trafficking Summit Shines Light on Labor Trafficking in Ohio

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today hosted the 2023 Human Trafficking Summit, emphasizing his strong belief that the best way to curb human trafficking is to deter those who create the demand side of this predatory market.

“Ohio is a leader in the country at focusing on demand reduction,” AG Yost said in his opening remarks. “We’re about freeing victims from captivity. We know our collective efforts are working, but we will continue to fight so that those who solicit sex or compel forced labor know that we are coming for them.”

The summit, in its fourth year, brings together survivors, law enforcement, victim advocates and community stakeholders from around the state who are dedicated to wiping out this scourge. The annual event is organized by the AG’s Human Trafficking Initiative.

Since taking office in 2019, Yost has made curbing human trafficking a top priority. Through the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC), the attorney general oversees seven regional law enforcement task forces that conduct various operations to arrest sex buyers and provide services to victims.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has also lobbied for legislation that requires offenders to undergo sex buyer education classes, and has provided grants to local courts to set up those programs.

This year’s summit put renewed focus on the fact that human trafficking encompasses not only sex trafficking but also labor trafficking.

Keynote speaker Suleman Masood is a survivor of human trafficking — in his case, domestic labor trafficking — and serves on the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. He spoke about the need to meet survivors where they are, and provide services that are detailed to their needs.

“People don’t understand what it means to be forced into labor because not everyone reports it,” he said. “The highest category of reported cases should alarm you — but the lowest reported number should alarm you more.”

Today’s summit included 17 unique workshops with 39 live speakers. The event was sold out, with a combined 1,000 registrants joining either in person or online.

Hear more from the AG:

“For a lot of years, we didn’t even look at the trafficker…”

“In the next four years one of the things you’re going to see is a renewed emphasis…”

“I started meeting survivors, I started to see what really happens, and it tore my heart.”

Kelly May: 614-813-7419