"End Demand Act" helps fight against sex trafficking - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

"End Demand Act" helps fight against sex trafficking

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University of Toledo professor Dr. Celia Williamson has spent more than a decade researching and fighting for the rights of sex trafficking victims.  She was excited to learn Governor John Kasich signed the "End Demand Act" into law Friday, a bill she played a large role in crafting with State Representative Teresa Fedor.

"Every one of our young people are important," says Dr. Williamson, who founded the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition. "And when you buy them for sex, we are not going to go along with that anymore."

It creates harsher penalties for the "Johns", or customers, who purchase sex from minors.  Paying a minor to have sex is no longer classified as a misdemeanor, it's now a felony.  Anyone convicted of having sex with a child under the age of 15 or with a developmental disability must register as a sex offender. And parents who sell or push their children into trafficking will have their parental rights terminated.

"We found out that it's not a victimless crime," says bill sponsor, State Rep. Teresa Fedor. "The effects are devastating, and the victims are wounded in body and soul."

House Bill 130 includes other changes, but Fedor says the bottom line is buyers no longer get a pass.

"We are solving a problem that exists in Ohio by giving law enforcement the tools and communities the reason to fight this and protect our children," Rep. Fedor tells 13abc.

"The government calls it modern day slavery, so it's our job to do everything we can to ensure everybody has life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," says Dr. Williamson.  "This is the social justice issue of our lifetime."

To get more information on the upcoming Human Trafficking Conference in September, visit http://www.traffickingconference.com/

Below are other local resources for Lucas County related to human trafficking.

http://secondchancetoledo.org/secondchance/coalition
http://lchtc.org/
http://www.ccv.org/issues/human-trafficking/human-trafficking-of-ohio-minors/
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