Report: Sex trafficking thriving in Cincinnati - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Report: Sex trafficking thriving in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Prostitution and sex trafficking are apparently thriving in the greater Cincinnati area.

A three month study by a Cleveland based non-profit called The Image Foundation tracked ads for adult services advertised on the website backpage.com.

"We found that there's a significant demand for commercial sex in the greater Cincinnati area," says Jesse Bach, the Image Foundation's Executive Director.

Bach says because of the demand for sex, there has been a significant supply, many of whom advertise online.

"We found roughly 602 phone numbers coming out of this area representing a significant amount of individuals who are being sold for commercial sex," explains Bach. "We're not sure if they're being willingly prostituted, if they're willing prostitutes, which is illegal or forced trafficking victims."

Back in November, a FOX19 undercover investigation showed how police executed a prostitution sting at an area hotel. The sting resulted in several arrests.

All of the information gathered by police in that sting was gathered on backpage.com.

"When you talk about what we think of as the traditional sex trafficking victim, a young lady that's forced against her will, her ad is hidden within consensual commercial sex ads," explains Bach.

Areas like Hamilton, Fairfield and Sharonville – along with the I-75 corridor in Norwood, downtown and Florence have all seen significant sex trafficking. Erin Myer of End Slavery Cincinnati says human trafficking isn't always about sex.

"We've seen all types of cases here in the greater Cincinnati area. Domestic servitude, forced labor in restaurants - in more rural counties farm work. We've also seen it in factories, explains Myer.

The authors of this report are calling for a more aggressive prosecution of those who pay for sex. They argue that if the demand is reduced, the supply will soon follow.

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