Office of University Communications

Celia Williamson

Celia Williamson
Professor of Social Work and Director of the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute

President Obama recently said that we need to call it “by its true name – ‘modern slavery.’” The fact is hundreds of thousands of young boys and girls are forced into human trafficking. Celia Williamson agrees with the President that it is one of the “great human rights causes of our time” and she has been working to address human trafficking since 1993. She is the founder and president of a National Research Consortium on Commercial Sexual Exploitation comprised of scholars who research human trafficking. Williamson organizes each year the largest scholarly anti-trafficking conference in Toledo called The International Human Trafficking, Prostitution and Sex Work Conference. She also is the founder of Second Chance, the first anti-trafficking organization in Ohio that provides comprehensive services to victims of domestic sex trafficking and prostitution.

Expertise: Human trafficking and prostitution

Human trafficking
"It's not just an issue of young people who are poor are being trafficked. The issue is, young people who are vulnerable, and vulnerability cuts across classes, it cuts across races."

Filmmaker seeks to alert kids to danger of trafficking
Columbus Dispatch
January 2016

"Restoration means restoring that person to that place — the person they would have been — if this didn't happen. We've been able to identify victims and are working now to create survivors. But not only survivors, we're working now to create thrivers, and that means an empowered, tax-paying person with a family, a home, those types of things."

December 2015

"What we need to do as a university is come out into the community, work with the government, work with the politicians, pass the best legislation, implement the best services. And when a university's will wants to do that, we're going to do that, and it's going to be fabulous."

13 ABC
April 2015

"If you are serious about addressing trafficking then you have to address all of it — you have to expose all of it, not just the comfortable parts. Everyone wants to run and save the victims. Traffickers, put them in prison forever. But the customers are an equal part of the problem and if you don't address that, then you can't significantly address trafficking."

To crack down on sex trafficking in Ohio, focus on the johns, researcher tells state commission
The Plain Dealer

"Somebody is always walking her to the next date and walking her back. She comes back and she's locked in the apartment with other girls. So the reason that a girl who, let's just say was snatched, doesn't just run to the first police officer, the first person that she sees and says, you know, 'I'm being held against my will,' is because that pimp says to her, 'I will hurt your family, I will hurt your siblings. You better not say anything to anybody.' Until she can find a way to escape, make eye contact, tell someone during the 'seasoning period,' she's not going to get away."

Pimp Abducts Ohio Teens
ABC News Primetime
July 2008

Child prostitution
"Everything has been done so wrong in the past. We arrest children for their own sexual abuse and their own rape. We don't provide any services. We let them out (of jail) to their pimps."

Child-prostitution cases reveal cruel underworld
USA Today
July 2006

human trafficking, sex trafficking, prostitute, prostitution, sex work, modern slavery, exploitation
Last Updated: 12/16/19