October 31 I attended a presentation at UALC Mill Run campus on the C.A.T.C.H court of Franklin County, Ohio, which is a diversion program offering women victimized by human trafficking the chance to leave lives of trauma, homelessness, substance abuse and incarceration. It was started in 2009 by Judge Paul M. Herbert, a Christian, who had a personal experience with a woman in his court room that was like that of the disgraced woman in Luke’s account of the woman who bathed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. He told us the most important word in the Bible is “SEE.”
He told us that prostitution isn’t the glamorous, self selected life of “Pretty woman” the Julia Roberts film where women are exchanging sex for money. He showed footage of severe physical abuse. We heard about branding with tattoos, pimps being “married” to all his girls, new identities, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones and rape. That’s NOT sex for hire. . . it’s slavery. One third of the prostitutes were in the field before age 15, and now average age is 12-13; 62% are before their 18th birthday. Ohio passed a Statute of Human Trafficking, June, 27, 2012—every human trafficking victim is also a prostitute—victim and criminal. 92% of those arrested for prostitution also fit the definition of human trafficking.
The C.A.T.C.H. program graduates have a very high rate of success. We also heard from a graduate of the program, Vanessa Perkins who today is employed by the very court system that previously tried and convicted her and has completed 5 years of sobriety with no new offenses. She serves on the Board of Freedom a la Cart. Story here.
This video is very similar to the presentation I heard this morning.