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10th annual sex trafficking conference at UToledo combats pervasive issue

In three days 152 pimps were arrested and 105 children victims forced into prostitution were rescued during a nationwide FBI operation to address commercial sex trafficking in the United States. Trafficking logo

“Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America,” Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, said at the time of Operation Cross Country VII in July. “This operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere, and the FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and holding the criminals who profit from this exploitation accountable.”

For the past decade Celia Williamson, UToledo professor of social work, and her International Human Trafficking, Prostitution and Sex Work Conference celebrating its tenth anniversary next week, have been working to raise awareness about and bring an end to the problem.

“It is imperative we build on this momentum to continue to make great strides in increasing awareness about trafficking and curbing the practice that continues to victimize far too many young people,” said Williamson, who also is the founder of Second Chance, a social service program located in Toledo that provides comprehensive services to victims of domestic sex trafficking and prostitution.



“The efforts of the FBI, such as this latest operation, are essential. We continue to work toward stricter laws to punish pimps, additional services for victims and increased public awareness that collectively will help to end this horrific practice of sex trafficking.”

The 10th Annual International Human Trafficking, Prostitution and Sex Work Conference Sept. 27-28 at The University of Toledo will share the latest in research, advocacy and programs to stop the practice and aid the victims of it.

The event will feature a keynote address at 12:30 p.m. Thursday by survivors and activists Sarita Skagnes and Theresa Flores. Skagnes is the author of the book “Just a Daughter” that shares her story of being exchanged by her parents for a boy because they wanted a son and how she was left behind to work as a maid servant. Flores is the author of “The Slave across the Street” about her experience as a sex trafficking victim when she was a teenager living in suburban Detroit.

The conference will feature more than 45 presenters on topics such as recruitment in jails, how hotels and motels facilitate trafficking, transgender youth in the sex trade and more. International components include examining trafficking concerns in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

For more information on the conference, visit

Media Coverage
13 ABC (Sept. 23, 2013)
WTOL 11, 13 ABC and WNWO (Sept. 27, 2013)


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