State and local leaders across the country have made human trafficking a priority. Public concern about the issue is growing, along with wild conspiracy theories propped up by groups like QAnon. But even the agencies tasked with fighting trafficking regularly repeat misleading claims. In Trafficked, a podcast from WYSO Public Radio, reporter Leila Goldstein weaves together the voices of advocates vying for limited resources, exasperated researchers trying to correct falsehoods and trafficking survivors who have made their way out. The series cuts through the misinformation about human trafficking to find out what happens when we get the story wrong.
Series logo by Kayla Freeman-Haynes
Officials have put a growing focus on the issue of human trafficking in Ohio and the state has received millions of dollars in federal funding to combat it. The crime is a form of exploitation where a person is made to do some form of labor or sex work through force, fraud or coercion. But there is still a lot people don’t know about human trafficking. Experts say it rarely looks like the abductions by strangers depicted in movies. In the first part of Trafficked from WYSO, hear the story of survivor Alizabeth Watkins and the challenges she’s still up against. A warning, this story includes descriptions of sexual violence.
For months, WYSO reporter Leila Goldstein has been looking into misinformation about human trafficking. She wanted to get to the bottom of what human trafficking really looks like in a place like Ohio. So she started by talking to survivors of labor and sex trafficking.