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Ohio Honors Human Trafficking Awareness Day

COLUMBUS (Chris Vanocur/Kate Liebers) -- Ohio continued the fight against selling people for sex or forced labor on Thursday.

Jan. 9 marked the fifth annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day, a day devoted to educating people about this growing problem in Ohio.

Putting a face to this often hidden problem was Barbara Freeman.

She said she was forced into the human trafficking industry when she was 16 years old.

"These guys are looking for these young girls -- 13, 12, 10," Freeman warned. "They want them as young as they can get them."

Such victims are forced to have sex or be slave laborers.

Freeman said she escaped when she was 34. 

Now, years later, she aims to raise awareness by sharing her story.

"Every day I wake up and I'll be like, 'Ok, God. Who can I help today? Who can I educate about human trafficking?'" Freeman said. 

Her presentation complemented the state's effort to reach out to victims. As part of this campaign, posters will be popping up in libraries, public transportation and homeless shelters across Ohio.

The signs direct people to learn more at www.polarisproject.org.

Thursday's event was presented by State Representative Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo).
 
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