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This week: Events for Human Trafficking Awareness Day

The modern-day slavery industry operates in secret. The perpetrators of sex trafficking and forced labor make sure that their victims are afraid to speak out and get help.

Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition and other organizations work to rescue victims of human trafficking and support efforts of law enforcement to apprehend the perpetrators. But there is still much work to be done to bring the issue out of the shadows.

On Thursday, January 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Ohio Representative Teresa Fedor is hosting the 5th Annual Ohio Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the Atrium of the Ohio Statehouse. Speakers will include:

  • Rachel Lloyd, founder of Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS), which supports girls and young women survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking
  • Vern Smith and Nick Lembo of The Defenders USA, a coalition of men who fight the commercial sex industry by educating men not to participate in it

The event is free and open to the public. A Freedom a la Carte lunch will be available for $10 per person. Please RSVP to Claire Childers at or (614) 644-6017 by January 6.

Also on January 9, at 7 p.m. The Defenders USA is sponsoring the Ohio premiere of Chosen, a documentary film that equips teenagers to protect themselves from being lured into the sex industry.

The film will be screened at Grace Polaris Church, 8225 Worthington-Galena Road in Westerville. Admission is free. For more information, contact Vern Smith at

Saturday, January 11 is the national observance of Human Trafficking Awareness Day. From 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is hosting Break Every Chain, a human trafficking awareness conference at the Summit Road Campus Building 1, 8579 Summit Road in Reynoldsburg.

Guests will include Reynoldsburg Councilman Cornelius McGrady III, the Reynoldsburg Youth Human Trafficking Coalition, and human trafficking survivor Barbara Freeman. More information and online registration is available here.

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