(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today announced that his office will begin a new program to help survivors of human trafficking eliminate a visible reminder that many live with: tattoos and similar markings that once served to “brand” them as the property of pimps, drug dealers or gangs.
Grants covering the cost of transforming such tattoos with new designs will be named in honor of late trafficking survivor Jennifer Kempton. Kempton founded the advocacy organization Survivor’s Ink, engaging in similar efforts to break the psychological chains of trafficking enslavement. Yost announced the new program during today’s 10th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day at the Ohio Statehouse.
“The journey of a survivor out of slavery and addiction and trauma is hard enough without a permanent reminder that is literally part of your skin,” said Yost. “These grants will enable women to leave behind the brand that identified them as someone else’s property.”
Grants of $10,000 from the Ohio Attorney General’s Crime Victim Services section will be made available to local nonprofit agencies that deal with human trafficking, approved by courts that carry specialty dockets to address human trafficking. Funds to support the grants are generated through court fines, fees, and settlements.
The grant funds will cover the cost of tattooing services to transform or eliminate branding or marking that was used as a symbol of trafficking abuse. The local court will determine the victim’s eligibility and will approve the cost for each individual. Human trafficking specialty court dockets are currently operational in Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton and Summit counties. The program may reach additional counties as specialty dockets are created in other parts of the state.
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More information about Jennifer Kempton and Survivor’s Ink can be found here.