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Columbus city council approves legislation to address human trafficking, sexual exploitation

The ordinance, which starts in 30 days, would strengthen penalties for people charged with buying sex.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus City Council approved legislation to address human trafficking and sexual exploitation Monday night.

Council approved an ordinance to amend a code that would separate the offenses for buying and selling sex.

The ordinance, which starts in 30 days, would strengthen penalties for people charged with buying sex.

“Historically, the consequences for prostitution have unjustly fallen on our neighborhoods and individuals who sell sex, instead of those that traffic and exploit them," said councilmember Mitchell Brown.

Potential penalties include a $300 fine for the first offense with required attendance at an education or therapeutic diversion program.

The ordinance recommends a $550 fine and ten days in jail for the second offense. A third offense and beyond would face an $800 penality and 15 days in jail.

The fines would be distributed into a fund called the Victims of Human Trafficking Fund.

The fund will support shelter, medical treatment and counseling services for victims of human trafficking.

In July, the council approved nearly $500,000 in grants to human service organizations like the Salvation Army, Out of Darkness, 1DivineLine2Health and others.

“While the grants provided to these vital community-based organizations will help to support our most vulnerable residents now, the legislation approved tonight will generate an ongoing funding source to sustain these supportive services,” Brown said.

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