COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Lawmakers in Ohio are well aware that sex trafficking is a problem in the state, and have made great strides in curbing as much of it as they can.
Recently U.S. Senator Rob Portman, with the help of his fellow U.S. Senator from Ohio Sherrod Brown and others lawmakers from a number of other states, put forth legislation that could also make a difference.
“It’s unbelievable what’s happening in the 21st century that people are being sold,” said Portman. “This has moved from the street corner to the smart phone.”
What has drawn Portman’s ire currently are internet sites like Backpage.com that in some cases have immunity from victims of sex trafficking who want to bring suit against them.
“What we are trying to do in our legislation is, very narrowly, say that if you are knowingly involved in sex trafficking; facilitating it; assisting it; supporting it; that you should not get that immunity,” said Portman.
According to Sen. Brown the effort to end sex trafficking needs to continue, back in Ohio.
“We don’t think of ourselves as a society where human beings are trafficked and it is slavery, it is sex slavery, it’s just unimaginable to happen to one of your family members,” said Brown.
The senators say lawmakers here need to make sure police agencies are able to coordinate efficiently to identify and stop trafficking.
Still, Portman says making further strides can be difficult.
“Until you get that new [federal] legislation in place, I think it’s going to be tough to make the kind of progress we all want to make,” said Portman.