More to human trafficking than meets the eye


By J Swygart - jswygart@limanews.com



Kathryn Wolf Farmer, rape crisis and anti-human trafficking director with Crime Victim Services, was the guest speaker at Monday’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Lima. Farmer talked about the ongoing fight against human trafficking throughout northwest Ohio.

Kathryn Wolf Farmer, rape crisis and anti-human trafficking director with Crime Victim Services, was the guest speaker at Monday’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Lima. Farmer talked about the ongoing fight against human trafficking throughout northwest Ohio.


J Swygart | The Lima News

LIMA — Victims of human trafficking seldom match their stereotypical image.

Rarely are they chained to a bed inside a seedy motel room, or found working in a dimly-lit, back-alley sweat shop under the watchful gaze of an armed thug.

According to Kathryn Wolf Farmer, rape crisis and anti-human trafficking director at the Crime Victim Services agency serving Allen and Putnam counties, survivors of human trafficking endeavors have been discovered in some of the most unlikely of places.

“Human trafficking is the buying and selling of human beings, but it’s broader than just sex trafficking. Sometimes it’s forced labor, where individuals are forced to work long hours for little or no pay. And we’ve seen victims in places ranging from migrant farm worker locations to local dairy and egg farms to nail salons,” Farmer told members of the Rotary Club of Lima during its Monday meeting.

On the other end of the human trafficking spectrum, Farmer said, is the sex industry, which includes prostitutes under the thumb of pimps as well as those forced to work in the pornography industry, strip clubs or massage parlors.

“We’ve seen mothers trafficking their daughters to pay for their own drug habit, and we’ve seen pastors and coaches who are the ones doing the trafficking,” she said.

Crime Victim Services begin in 1981 in Allen County and expanded its services into Putnam County in 1990. Farmer said the agency currently performs rape crisis and human trafficking services in nine area counties in northwest Ohio. Approximately 14 percent of the 3,500 individuals served by the agency in the region were victims of rape crisis and/or human trafficking, according to a CVS brochure.

“As a rule, we don’t see victims who are being physically restrained; it’s more often a case where they are being psychologically threatened,” said Farmer.

But identifying victims of human trafficking is not an easy task, she said. Seldom do those victims come forward themselves, emotionally shackled by the threat of violence, a deep sense of shame surrounding their lives, or a dependency and/or loyalty to their very captors.

“There is a lot of trauma involved in these tense situations, and that trauma is unique to each individual,” said Farmer. “Our victims are literally in a survivor state of mind. They wonder where they’re going to sleep tonight or where their next meal is coming from. And that often creates ‘trauma-bonding’ with their captors,” she said. “The individual feels threatened, but with the perceived inability to escape.”

Farmer said it is imperative that a multi-agency approach be utilized in confronting human trafficking.

“We have to work with law enforcement, the medical field and mental health experts to create an environment for survivors to heal from their experiences,” Farmer told the Rotarians.

The International Labor Organization estimated there are 24.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, according to literature distributed at the Rotary Club meeting.

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s 2017 Human Trafficking Commission annual report, released last week by Attorney General Mike DeWine, there were 208 potential victims of human trafficking identified statewide last year.

Law enforcement agencies reported 202 human trafficking investigations leading to 70 arrests and 18 successful criminal convictions. Females comprised more than 90 percent of human trafficking victims. Ages for victims ranged from younger than 13 to 85, although most were between 21 and 29 years old, according to the commission’s report.

Kathryn Wolf Farmer, rape crisis and anti-human trafficking director with Crime Victim Services, was the guest speaker at Monday’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Lima. Farmer talked about the ongoing fight against human trafficking throughout northwest Ohio.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/02/web1_Human-trafficking-speaker.jpgKathryn Wolf Farmer, rape crisis and anti-human trafficking director with Crime Victim Services, was the guest speaker at Monday’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Lima. Farmer talked about the ongoing fight against human trafficking throughout northwest Ohio. J Swygart | The Lima News

By J Swygart

jswygart@limanews.com

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