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African American Human Trafficking Numbers Will Astound You.

62% of human trafficking suspects are African Americans

52% of all juvenile prostitution arrests are African Americans

40% of victims of human trafficking are African Americans

Human trafficking victims are typically poor and have a history of exploitation, substance or sexual abuse, learning disabilities, and inadequate support systems.

Some argue that the demand for African Americans for sexual exploitation is higher than that of other races, and the penalties associated with trafficking African Americans are less severe.



According to the Salvation Army of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, human trafficking is exploiting men, women, and children through force, fraud, and coercion for commercial sex or labor.  This center identifies victims and serves survivors exploited in factories, massage parlors, pimp-controlled prostitution, and domestic servitude such as nannies and housekeepers in the Greater Cincinnati Area.


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According to the Shared Hope International report card, Ohio has a C grade for human trafficking. Ohio is the only state that requires force, fraud, or coercion to be proven for sex trafficking victims who are 16- or 17-year-olds.


In July of 2019, Senate Bill 13 passed requiring 16 and 17-year-olds, considered victims of human trafficking, to be treated the same as younger children covered by the state’s “Safe Harbor” law. This bridges the gaps, protects more children and teens, and increases punishments for stealing and selling these girls and boys. Join the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force and learn how Senate bills are being changed.


Human Trafficking and African Americans


In 2018, Essence reported that more than 14,000 calls were made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Human trafficking is also known as modern-day slavery. Victims are more likely to be African American than other ethnicities.


In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that 62% of Human trafficking suspects, including children and adults, are African American. Additionally, African American children make up 52% of all juvenile prostitution arrests. In many instances, these children are not prostitutes. They are victims.  


Researchers and advocates are trying to understand why African American victims are overrepresented in human trafficking. Some argue that the demand for African Americans is higher than for other races.



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Others suggest that because African American men abduct and traffic the highest percentage of America’s human trafficking victims, the traffickers have more connections to African American victims and operate more comfortably in low-income African American communities where many victims live.


Equally as disturbing is that the traffickers interviewed for a recent Urban Institute study overwhelmingly believed that trafficking white women would make them more money, but trafficking black women would land them less jail time if caught. Moreover, these traffickers are more than likely selling the services of their victims to affluent and highly regarded Caucasian men.


As a result, advantaged Caucasian offenders are more relatable and thus more credible to jurors than young, poor, less educated victims. Instead of protection, counseling, and training, they are given jail time and the penalties of having a juvenile record.


About Cyntoia Brown


Cyntoia Brown is a prime example of an African American girl convicted of murder for killing her captor in 2004. At 16, Cyntoia was prostituted by a pimp and later sold to a 43-year-old Caucasian male. In fear for her life, she shot and killed her solicitor.


Her story was captured in the 2011 documentary Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story and brought to light by celebrities Rihanna and Kim Kardashian, who advocated for her release.


On Tuesday, January 8, 2019, CNN announced that Cyntoia Brown was granted clemency and was being released to parole supervision on August 7, 2019. She served a total of 15 years in prison. The second installment of her documentary is slated to be released later this year.


Human Trafficking Awareness and Advocacy in Ohio


Of the nearly 14,000 calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2017, 4,460 cases were reported, with 191 cases in Ohio.   The Buckeye State ranks #4 in the country for human trafficking cases reported, behind only California, Texas, and Florida.


According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only about 13 percent of confirmed Human trafficking victims in the U.S. are 25 or older. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office reported that 1,000 children and youth victims are forced into the Human trade yearly, many being only middle-school age.



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A study by the University of Cincinnati researchers determined 1,032 known victims of human trafficking and 4,209 more at risk in Ohio from 2014 to 2016. All victims were minors and young adults.


Now the question is, what can you do this month and all year to help advocate for these young African American girls and women? Your advocacy can also start with seeing the signs of human trafficking. As most national human trafficking campaigns suggest, If You See Something, Say Something!


Human Trafficking Indicators


Below are general indicators to pay attention to from people you have a relationship with and those you don’t. These general indicators can be seen in both groups.


People you know

  • Multiple reports of running away
  • Disconnection from family or other caregivers
  • Loss of interest in age-appropriate activities
  • Sexual activity/history of STDs and pregnancies
  • Large amounts of money, clothes, or accessories with no explanation as to how obtained


People you do not know

  • Appears malnourished and lacks medical care
  • Branded with barcode or number tattoos by pimps to show ownership
  • Is not in control of their own money, no financial records, or bank account
  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid and avoids eye contact


Human Trafficking Resources


Franciscan Ministries’ Tamar Center

Provides shelter and care for women who suffer from addiction and are exploited through human sex trafficking. Many of these women are homeless. They are always in need of volunteers.



One of the leading national advocacy organizations working to improve the lives of marginalized girls, not only are girls of color disproportionately impacted by human trafficking.



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If you suspect someone is being trafficked or know of their involvement, please call 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP to 233733 (BeFree).


Written by: Crystal Kendrick


The Voice of Black Cincinnati is a media company designed to educate, recognize and create opportunities for African Americans. Want to find local news, events, job posting, scholarships, and a database of local Black-owned businesses? Visit our homepage, explore other articles, subscribe to our newsletter, like our Facebook page, join our Facebook group, and text VOBC to 513-270-3880.


African American human trafficking image provided by © [highwaystarz ] /Adobe Stock

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Written by Crystal Kendrick

Publisher, The Voice of Black Cincinnati