I read with interest The Enquirer's good article highlighting the distribution to area hotels of 15,000 bars of soap during the All-Star game. Knowing major national sporting events attract sex traffickers, the soap is inscribed with messages to those trapped about how to seek help. This is the kind of innovative approach we need to stop these unspeakable crimes, usually involving young girls, sometimes as young as 13 or 14 years old.
I applaud this creative initiative, and The Enquirer's attention to the issue, but I hope this will lead to a broader discussion about how to address the issue and the key role we can play here in Ohio. The SOAP program is just one of the many steps that SOAP founder Theresa Flores and other anti-human trafficking activists are undertaking around our state.
Last month I joined a roundtable at the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute at the University of Toledo and discussed with activists and former victims the best ways to fight back. As I travel the state, I hear from local leaders and law enforcement officers steps they are taking to prevent further trafficking. They understand that education initiatives and public awareness are the best weapons in this battle, but that we also need to do a better job taking care of those who are being trafficked. Right here in Cincinnati, the Freedom Center has rightfully taken on the cause of fighting a form of modern-day slavery.
Based on my experience in Ohio, I co-founded the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking a few years ago and began working with Ohio activists to promote and ultimately pass legislation that will help save lives.
Recently, the president signed three of my bills that enhance the way we search for missing children, amends a previous law to make sure that those who have been sexually exploited are treated as victims, not criminals, and ensures that buyers and traffickers are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
We are making progress in this fight because many heroes from Ohio are providing a voice for thousands of victims who do not have one. Their courage has helped turn an issue that has impacted so many in the Buckeye State into a national movement to stop human trafficking.