Fedor Receives Prestigious Pathbreaker Award for Anti-Human Trafficking Work
November 17, 2021
Today, state Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) received the Pathbreaker Award, a prestigious honor given by Shared Hope International to individuals who have led the fight to end human trafficking worldwide.
“I was honored to receive this award on behalf of the many survivors and advocates who have helped me champion anti-human trafficking legislation in Ohio. Without them, my work and this award would not have been possible,” Senator Fedor said. “We have come a long way in the fight to end human trafficking in Ohio, but there is still more to do to ensure that survivors have access to housing, social services and employment, and that no person becomes victim to human trafficking in the first place.”
Since 2010, Shared Hope International has honored only 27 individuals with the Pathbreaker Award for their efforts to influence policy, provide services or advocate for justice. Senator Fedor was recognized for her 16 years of work improving Ohio’s anti-human trafficking legislation, particularly her efforts to increase protections for vulnerable youth. This includes the passage of the Protect Trafficked Minors Act in 2020, which modified Ohio’s safe harbor law that required prosecutors to demonstrate proof that force, fraud or coercion was used during the trafficking of 16- or 17-year-old victims in order for them to qualify for the protections granted to other minors.
“After years of reintroducing this legislation, I was grateful when it finally passed the legislature last year,” Fedor said. “The Protect Trafficked Minors Act was a values statement that demonstrated Ohio lawmakers’ commitment to protecting all minors from the horrors of human trafficking.”
This year, Shared Hope International also gave the Pathbreaker Award to Alexis “Kee’” Martin, a victim of human trafficking from Ohio who spent more than seven years in prison after being charged with the murder of her trafficker at age 17. Kee’ was honored for her bravery while being trafficked and during her time navigating barriers in Ohio’s legal system, as well as her advocacy of policies that promote protection instead of punishment.
“I was delighted to share the Pathbreaker Award with Kee’,” Fedor said. “Kee’s experiences are a glaring example of our system’s failures. Even though she should have been protected under Ohio’s Safe Harbor law, the justice system failed to see her as a victim. Despite her experiences, Kee’ continues to inspire me. I cannot wait to see how she will continue to use her experiences to better the lives of others.”
The award was presented during Shared Hope International’s JuST (Juvenile Sex Trafficking) conference series in Washington, D.C. The multi-day event aims to shed light on juvenile sex trafficking and inspire participants to take action against human trafficking through survivor presentations, skill-building training and collaborative workshops.
During this year’s conference, Shared Hope International will introduce the Report Cards on Child and Youth Sex Trafficking – an advanced legislative framework to annually evaluate states and their anti-human trafficking legislation.
“Most people don’t realize how widespread and overlooked human trafficking has become,” Fedor said. “Many of the victims look like the women and girls you see every day, and it affects people throughout all of our communities. We must reimagine our definition of justice by focusing on harm reduction, rather than arresting our way out of the trauma. That’s why I will continue to work on legislation around these issues.”