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Out of sight, out of mind? Bringing awareness to the community Human trafficking series By Bethany J.

Royer Originally published in the Piqua Daily Call January !" #$ %

PIQUA The story is chilling, a teenage girl auctioned off for sex to a dozen men and her only comfort after the fact, a bar of soap. This unsettling story as shared by !eesa "a#er, executi$e director for the Pi%ua &'(A, and ill be discussed in a future Daily Call, as e loo# further into the tra$esty that is human traffic#ing and modern day sla$ery. An issue highlighted during the month of )anuary across the United *tates as +ational *la$ery and ,uman Traffic#ing Pre$ention month. Along ith the local police department, the &'(A is loo#ing to bring a areness to area residents of the modern day problem of sex and labor traffic#ing that happens not only in other countries or large cities, but locally. -That.s hat ma#es the &'(A such a great partner for us,/ said "ruce )amison, (hief of Police, as oft0times pre$ention and a areness programs recei$e less attention due to more immediate needs and necessary responses to area emergencies. 'hile explaining ho the department as initially approached by the &'(A upon hearing of the problem and anting to bring a areness to the community. The organization.s first %uestion, and hat many may %uestion, as ell, is ho much human traffic#ing transpires here in the Pi%ua community and hat can they do1 It as a %uestion the (hief of Police ans ered as something that has been going on for at least the last 23 years that he has been or#ing in the community. 4ne that has pro$en to be something of a double0edged s ord in some situations such as in the case of the traffic#ing of illegal immigrants. -'e could see that they ere mistreated, that they ere being $ictimized,/ said )amison, ho e$er, authorities faced multiple issues in trying to aid these indi$iduals, such a culture of fear in not anting to report abuses due to the ris# of deportation. 4r in the population0at0large.s negati$e $ie or association to the title of illegal alien that as in need of a differentiating definition so as to bring proper a areness to the situation. -Until e started getting some a areness and calling it human traffic#ing and sla$ery hat it is a community is not going to support it./ In a case of out of sight, out of mind, )amison explained ho such issues as prostitution goes on in the community but, -'e don.t ha$e prostitutes hanging out on our street corners. 'e ha$e prostitution but it.s not $isible./ *o ho does a community 5ustify tax0dollar support or support in general for problems they can.t see1 They ha$e to be made a are that these issues are flying under the radar, says )amison. 6or instance, as )amison explained for those indi$iduals held through $arious means to support a business or enterprise, -It.s fine to ha$e a minimum age la but hene$er someone is here,

under the radar, it really doesn.t matter. not getting paid minimum age. They are probably housed some here, including in this city, by the enterprise that.s running the business./ )amison ent on to share an anecdote from the mid078s here male or#ers ere being housed at a single location in a Pi%ua neighborhood. -They ould lea$e the house to go to the business in the morning, in a $an, and all get returned that e$ening./ +o bother to the neighbors, ho ere una are to the going0ons, )amison said it as obser$ed that the or#ers ere being re arded by a $an0load of omen brought to the home sex sla$es from 'est (hester. -*o this has been around,/ said )amison ith the first step to bring a areness so as to recognize hen human traffic#ing and sla$ery may be going on. Indications include the follo ing patterns for labor traffic#ing, pro$ided by the +ational ,uman Traffic#ing 9esource (enter, such as $ictims being #ept isolated to pre$ent them from getting help or being blac#mailed, especially if they are undocumented. :*ee box for more information; !abor traffic#ed indi$iduals often come from economically and oppressed places ith high illiteracy rates, little social mobility and little to no economic opportunities. Bethany J. Royer may be reached at 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall