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Human trafficking takes center stage at University of Toledo this week

UT is hosting a three-day virtual conference on the issue. Organizers say they’re expecting nearly 2,000 people to attend for about 70 different presentations.
Generic human trafficking image.
Generic human trafficking image.(Chris O'Sullivan / MGN)
Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 5:34 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The International Labor Organization estimates that over 40 million people are victims of human trafficking here in the US. Several organizations are working on rescuing and supporting victims of this pervasive crime, and now the justice department is supporting those them with grants, including one right here in Toledo. Advocating Opportunity was awarded $1.4 million over the next three years to continue their work with victims of trafficking.

“Sometimes you’ll have mixed where people are both sex and labor trafficking victims and we’ve identified I think over the last three years 22 or 23 minors involved in labor trafficking in the Toledo area and that’s just a small amount based on the clients we already have”, says Megan Mattimoe, Executive Director of Advocating Opportunity.

This week, the University of Toledo is hosting a three-day virtual conference on the issue. Organizers say they’re expecting nearly 2,000 people to attend for about 70 different presentations.

Dr. Celia Williamson, director of the UT Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute, says the university was one of the first schools to get out in front of this problem and has been leading the way ever since in educating others about it.

“Now a lot of people have gotten woke and they have coalitions and they have task forces and they are addressing and responding to the problem as well. So Toledo does have an issue but not any bigger than anybody else”, says Williamson.

The 17th Annual International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference runs through Friday. Registration is closed, but Williamson suggests joining the Emancipation Nation Network online to get involved in the fight to stop what some call modern-day slavery.

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