Twenty-two miles from Monroe lies a city with a secret.
Toledo is ranked fourth in the country for the most child prostitution and human trafficking, behind Miami, Portland, Ore., and Las Vegas.
Dr. Celia Williamson, a world renowned expert on human trafficking, said she is trying to put a stop to the horrifying and disgusting epidemic that is child sex slavery.
“It is something that the public needs to know,” Williamson said.
In a Sept. 28 presentation at the Whitman Center, Williamson will talk about the issues of human trafficking.
Williamson has published several research articles on the subject of prostitution and human trafficking, and has received numerous grants to study the subject.
She was the founder of the Second Chance program in Lucas County, which works with trafficked girls and women. The program won the 2010 national FBI award for its work with rescued victims.
She was an active force in securing an FBI Innocence Lost Task Force in Lucas County, which works to rescue children from the sex trade in Toledo.
Similarly, Williamson has organized and co-chaired six National and International Conferences on prostitution, sex work and human trafficking.
Some of the main points the presentation at Whitman will cover are the signs of human sex slaves, how you as a citizen can help, that this is happening right next door, and that America is not the only one suffering.
Additionally, Williamson will be talking about SOAP, Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution, which also works to rescue child soldiers in third world countries.
“This isn’t just happening here or there. It’s going on everywhere,” said Williamson.
Until Sept. 30, the Whitman Center has an exhibit on labor and sex prostitution, and how it affects citizens everywhere. Statistics from other countries and a real-life story from a child prostitution survivor are posted on boards in the Whitman lobby.
The human trafficking presentation is Sept. 28, beginning at 6:30 p.m. inside the Whitman Center. The event is open to the public.