Skip to content

Freedom Center takes on human trafficking in January

MEDIA CONTACT: Cody Hefner (513) 608-5777,

Programming and exhibit offer prevention through education

CINCINNATI – The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is shining a spotlight on the risks and horrors of human trafficking and modern-day slavery during January. The month is recognized as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and the Freedom Center is hoping to educate people about the risks and prevalence of human trafficking. A January 11 virtual panel brings together subject matter experts in human trafficking and the Freedom Center’s Invisible: Slavery Today exhibit shares in stark detail how geographically and categorically widespread human trafficking is.

Global estimates of human trafficking vary due to the hidden nature of the crime, but some organizations suggest between 25 and 40 million persons fall victim to modern slavery every year. According to the Polaris Project, there are over 22,000 victims and survivors of human trafficking in the United States annually. The I-75 corridor, including southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky, consistently reports some of the nation’s highest numbers of human trafficking, with Ohio ranking as high as fifth in the nation for reported cases. Instances often go unreported and can be difficult to identify but awareness about the signs and risks of trafficking remain the best way for most people to get involved in the fight against modern slavery.

“Human trafficking is a scourge that preys on individuals around the globe, hiding in plain sight, crossing borders and infiltrating communities as it destroys lives and extinguishes hope,” said Woodrow Keown, Jr., president & COO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “However, modern-day abolitionists stand ready around the globe to eradicate this injustice, helping to liberate those denied the dignity of freedom. This month, we ask you to educate yourself about this unfreedom and to dedicate yourself to exposing its instances so no more lives are stolen in its shadows.”

Human trafficking prevention advocates come together in the Let’s Talk: Human Trafficking Awareness virtual panel. Verjine Adanalian, attorney with the Ohio Justice & Policy Center; Gaby DeBellis, anti-human trafficking specialist and human rights advocate; and RaShya Ghee, change agent, lawyer, and educator, explore the connections between historic and modern-day slavery. As part of the discussion, the panel will assess the current state of human trafficking and how the ongoing pandemic and systemic racial inequities have made the problem even worse. Registration is required for the free virtual event.

Those looking to learn more about human trafficking in the United States and around the globe can also visit the Freedom Center’s permanent exhibit Invisible: Slavery Today. The exhibit is the world’s first museum-quality exhibit on the subjects of modern-day slavery and human trafficking, offering a comprehensive look at the five most common forms of exploitation: forced labor, bonded indenture, child slavery, sex trafficking, and domestic servitude. The immersive exhibit is designed to recreate the dark, dingy conditions victims often find themselves in, surrounded by wooden, metal, and plastic shipping containers used to traffic human beings. In addition to exploring the causes of slavery, the economic forces that contribute to its growth, and the response of government and justice systems, Invisible highlights anti-slavery activities underway around the globe, including by the Freedom Center’s partners Free the Slaves, International Justice Mission, and the Polaris Project.

For more information and resources about how to combat modern-day slavery, visit the Freedom Center’s online resource center

The Freedom Center is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To purchase tickets or for more information visit


#gzns .mn-banner .mn-ad-image { text-align: center; background-color: #f3f3f3; }