Fighting human trafficking through non-profit organizations

Bringing light to human trafficking in Summit and Portage County

By: Jasmine Pace

AKRON, OHIO — Human trafficking is a topic that is not often brought up in the news unless there is some major news break about an investigation.

On Wednesday, October 23rd, the University of Akron’s Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority put on an event that focused on human trafficking in the Summit County/Portage county area.

Becky Moreland, of Akron, Ohio, was one of the guest speakers at the event.

Moreland runs Rahab Ministries, which is a recovery home for women who have been trafficked into prostitution.

Rahab logo, courtesy of rahab-ministries.org
Rahab logo, courtesy of rahab-ministries.org

Rahab Ministries is a non-profit Christian organization that is funded by donations and helped by those in the area.

“I felt a calling to help those on the streets” said Moreland.  She later goes on to say, “I wanted to create a safe haven for women that had no place to go.”

For Moreland, she wanted to create a shelter and rehabilitation center for women who were in traumatic situations.

Aryan Langdon, Senior at Kent State University, states “I never knew that there was a human trafficking issue around here.”

Ohio Attorney General, Mike DeWine, has made an effort to punish human traffickers through House Bill 262.

This bill is to increase punishment for sex traffickers to a felony one and serve a mandatory sentence of ten years in prison, create more rehabilitation programs and helpful resources for sex trafficking victims, and expunge sex trafficking victims records.

Prior to DeWine’s effort to establish House Bill 262, there were no major efforts to convict sex traffickers in Ohio.

Moreland feels this bill will change “how we deal with sex traffickers and cut down on human trafficking.”

Graph of Ohio's human trafficking prevention groups via ohioattorneygeneral.gov/humantrafficking.aspx
Graph of Ohio’s human trafficking prevention groups via ohioattorneygeneral.go

Many women who are involved in sex trafficking begin at a young age.

According to the Human Trafficking Commission website, sex trafficking victims tend to start at the age of 13.

“Many of these victims prostitute themselves for years and find a hard time getting out because they are brainwashed by their ‘pimp’” said Moreland.

Offering resources and services like Rahab Ministries in Akron, Ohio, can give victims a chance to find a way out.

Portage County and Summit County are both apart of Ohio Alliance to Stop Sexual Violence.

“Many of these victims prostitute themselves for years and find a hard time getting out because they are brainwashed by their ‘pimp’” said Moreland.

Ohio Alliance to Stop Sexual Violence is a non-profit organization that is a state-wide coalition to stop sex violence and offer services to those who need help.

Portage County resource centers include Townhall II located in Kent; Child Advocacy Center of Portage County located in Ravenna; and Safer Futures located Kent.

Townhall II and Safer Futures both have 24-hour hotline services for individuals in need.

In the past few years, the need for services for human trafficking victims has grown.

Human trafficking has been going on for a long time, and for the most part, it goes unnoticed.

It is hard to accuse someone of being a sex trafficker or kidnapping someone without substantial evidence, as in the case with Ariel Castro.

It took a decade before the law caught up to Castro.

If there are no obvious signs, perpetrators tend to go unnoticed.

With the help of resource centers and House Bill 262 the number of sex trafficking in Ohio will hopefully decrease.

Although, there has not been much noticeable human trafficking in the Portage County area, bringing issues like human trafficking to the light will hopefully create an opportunity for victims to speak up.