27 Investigates: Prostitution persists in Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — On street corners and in motel rooms in Youngstown, women are being trafficked for sex and often feel trapped and unable to leave.

In 2012, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine crusaded against massage parlors throughout the Mahoning Valley. Some of these sexually-oriented businesses have long been suspected of being fronts for human trafficking.

But WKBN 27 Investigates Reporter Amanda Smith found little has changed to end sex trafficking since then.

A lot of streets on the south side of Youngstown feature neglected homes, abandoned lots, drugs, theft and prostitution. For many of the women working these streets, it is a terrible existence.

Tonya worked the streets of the south side for her pimp before he took her to Texas, Mississippi, Florida and Virginia–all places she has arrests and convictions for drugs and prostitution.

Now drug-free and enrolled in a masters degree program, she didn’t want us to show her face or use her real name..

“Every young girl that is out there selling her body, there is a reason behind it. It’s not because there is a dream as a child, ‘I want to grow up to be a prostitute,'” Tonya said. “When you are in addiction, and your money runs out and you have to get well, you think, he loves me.”

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