More than 1,000 young people in Ohio, some younger than the age of 12, are victims of sex trafficking each year. Toledo ranks fourth in the United States, among those with Innocence Lost Task Forces, in terms of number of arrests, investigations and rescues of domestic minor sex-trafficking victims.
“A Night for Freedom” will feature a sex-trafficking survivor sharing her story alongside other guests discussing the importance of education and awareness on Tuesday, May 20, at 7 p.m.
The free, public event will be held at the Maumee Indoor Theater located at 601 Conant St.
There is no cost to attend, but donations will be collected to complete the filming of “Shadow on the Heartland,” a documentary about the increasing problem of sex trafficking in Ohio. Donations will help cover production costs and the distribution of copies of the film to every school in Ohio, about 5,000 total.
“It’s time for Ohio, and particularly Toledo, to move forward in getting the schools educated on human trafficking,” said Dr. Celia Williamson, professor of social work at The University of Toledo, nationally known expert on sex trafficking, and guest speaker for “A Night for Freedom.” “Protecting our kids and ensuring they have a future filled with freedom and opportunity is our most important concern. We are asking that all school personnel become educated and develop a protocol for identifying and reporting suspected trafficking.”
The goals of “A Night for Freedom” and “Shadow on the Heartland” include educating parents on how to protect their children from becoming victims of sexual trafficking; making teenagers aware of how easily they can be coerced and controlled by traffickers; touching hearts as victims and survivors share their painful experiences in the sex trade in which they were forced to work; and inspiring viewers as they see how a united effort by law enforcement, government leaders, the legal system, social agencies and faith-based organizations has brought justice to those who engage in sexual trafficking while helping survivors build new lives.
Click here to view a snippet about “Shadow on the Heartland.”