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UT to host International Human Trafficking Conference

The Ohio End Demand Act was signed into law in June, before a coalition of supporters and trafficking survivors. The End Demand Act increases the penalty for purchasing sex from a minor from a misdemeanor to a felony.

This legislation follows the successfully enacted Safe Harbor Act, which provides a safe haven and needed services for victims as well as increasing penalties for traffickers.

The End Demand Act is aimed at reducing the illicit “consumer” demand for sex trafficking along with other important provisions to combat this crime

Celia Williamson, UT professor of social work, has focused on raising awareness about sex trafficking for more than a decade.

The 11th annual International Human Trafficking, Prostitution and Sex Work Conference will be Thursday, Sept. 18 and Friday, Sept. 19. Hosted by The University of Toledo, Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition and the National Research Consortium on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, the conference brings together researchers, practitioners and others to educate attendees on human trafficking and lay the groundwork for future collaborative research, advocacy and program development.

Dr. Joel Filmore will deliver the keynote, chronicling his 11-year journey as a victim of homelessness, drug-addiction and prostitution in Chicago to recently earning his doctorate in counselor education and supervision from Northern Illinois University.

Other featured presenters include:

•  Judge Paul Herbert, who will discuss the Franklin County Municipal Court docket “Changing Actions to Change Habits” (CATCH). The CATCH Program is an innovative, voluntary, two-year program designed to rescue and restore those trapped in the sex trade through intensive probation and rehabilitation services.
•  State Rep. Teresa Fedor will cover legislative updates, including the recent End Demand Act and last year’s Safe Harbor Act, and how these initiatives have shaped Ohio policy.
•  Abdul-Hadeem O. Alli, a journalist from Nigera, will examine the impact of the abduction of Nigeria’s Chibok School Girls and will discuss the ongoing efforts of the Nigerian government in ensuring the girls’ safe return to their families.

A reception honoring Rep. Fedor and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will be Thursday, Sept. 18 at 5:30 p.m. in Libbey Hall. Rep. Fedor and DeWine will receive awards for their work to combat human trafficking.

The Freedom Drivers Project (FDP), a mobile exhibit presented by Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), will also be present at the conference. FDP is designed to educate members of the trucking industry and the general public about the realities of domestic sex trafficking and how the trucking industry is combating it. TAT is a national, non-profit organization that provides training to members of the trucking and travel plaza industries and engages them in the war against both sex and work victimization.

Tours of the FDP exhibit are open to the general public at 10:45 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.

TAT and the FDP will also be key in assisting with the specially designed, age-appropriate conference track for area high school students.

Williamson, Rep. Fedor and Lyn Thompson, communication specialist for TAT, will be available for interviews and a photo opportunity on Friday, Sept. 19 at noon. The TAT trailer will be parked in Area 6, near Savage Arena. Click here for a campus map.

Various topics including heightened sex trafficking incidents in relation to the Super Bowl; the high number of transgender women buying sex in Chicago; and the sex tourism industry will also be discussed during the two-day conference.

For more information, visit or email

Media Coverage
13 ABC (Sept. 15, 2014)
The Independent Collegian (Sept. 17, 2014)
13 ABC and FOX Toledo (Sept. 22, 2014)
The Blade (Sept. 25, 2014)
The Blade (Sept. 28, 2014)
13 ABC (Sept. 29, 2014)


is UT's Media Relations Specialist. Contact her at 419.530.2077 or
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