Against human trafficking

Heidelberg University hosted a human trafficking awareness panel Monday evening addressing international, state and local issues.

The panel featured Jamie Orr, dean of the School of Criminal Justice and Social Sciences at Tiffin University; Special Agent David Pauly with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation; and Sister Mary Kuhlman of the Sisters of Saint Francis.

“Human trafficking is an international enterprise that profits billions of dollars a year,” Kristin Williams, assistant professor of education at Heidelberg, said. “Many believe that with being in a small town like Tiffin, it can’t happen here. I would love to tell you that you are right, but unfortunately that is not the case.”

Orr presented current issues on the international level. He said there are 2.7 million trafficking victims currently in exploitative conditions.

Orr said trafficking is a process that runs from recruitment in the country of origin to transportation through the country of transit to exploitation in the country of destination.

He discussed international rights and protocols to help combat human trafficking, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

At the state level, the Innocence Lost National Initiative was first implemented in 2003 in Ohio, Special Agent Pauly said.

Pauly has worked with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation for eight years and was a Tiffin City Police detective for 16 years before that. Pauly has worked with the Northwest Ohio Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force, which has recovered 2,700 children victimized by traffickers since ILNI’s inception.

Pauly said he was part of a sting operation that resulted in the recovery of a 16-year-old girl in Wood County March 20. The operation resulted in seven arrests.

The biggest issues the task force faces are the runaway and throwaway (tossed out by parents) juvenile victims and compliant victims who play a part in their own victimization, Pauly said.

“These victims tend to not cooperate with law enforcement and do not make good witnesses for the prosecution,” Pauly said. “These are not bad people. They just have it turned around and it just takes time.”

Pauly discussed what traffickers look for in a victim, the visible effects of prostitution, where victims could be recruited from, and forms of prostitution.

Locally, Kuhlman has worked to help victims of human trafficking. She said the Tiffin Sisters of Saint Francis opened “Sisters in Shelter.” The organization was open for two years, but didn’t have the resources to supply long-term care for victims.

Kuhlman said they are trying to re-open a home for victims.

Kuhlman asked the audience to promise her to find one thing that will make a difference.

“Learn about what is going on in your community and learn about the issues at hand,” Kuhlman said. “Talk to other victims and support other groups.”

“Look deep within yourselves and watch out for each other,” she said.

If you suspect someone may be a victim of trafficking, call (888) 3737-888.

Williams said the university hopes to make the panel an annual event.