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With Human Trafficking Reports Rising, Lawmaker Pushes To Expand "Safe Harbor"

Karen Kasler
: Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) stands with students to announce her proposal expanding the safe harbor law.

The number of reports of human trafficking in Ohio went up in the last year. Now, Democratic Rep. Teresa Fedor of Toledo proposed extending the state's "safe harbor" law to 16- and 17-year-olds.

Ohio's safe harbor law shields adult victims of human trafficking from prosecution for prostitution or similar crimes. Fedor says she wanted to widen that shield back when the law passed in 2012.

“We don’t allow rape in any other sense in our society and in our laws," Fedor says. "Why would we allow rape for a victim of human trafficking that’s being sold like chattel, like a pair of shoes?”

Fedor announced her proposal surrounded by teenage students from across the state who were at the Statehouse to talk about the issue. Many of them said they were unaware that human trafficking was happening in Ohio before they got involved, and that education of their peers is essential.