Connie Anderson considers her participation in the struggle against human trafficking to be the 21st-century equivalent of the abolitionist movement in the 1800s.

Connie Anderson considers her participation in the struggle against human trafficking to be the 21st-century equivalent of the abolitionist movement in the 1800s.

"As with the abolitionist movement, it's ordinary people banding together to say this is wrong and doing something about it," Anderson said. "Human trafficking is modern-day slavery."

Human trafficking is the Grandview resident's primary area of focus in her position as director of justice ministries for the Great Lakes Region of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA.

"Our mission is to help college students put their faith into action," Anderson said.

With the human trafficking issue, "I feel like this is one of the important causes of my era, just like abolition was in the 19th century," she said.

Anderson will talk about her involvement in the human trafficking issue as the featured speaker at the Grandview Area Chamber of Commerce's next luncheon. The luncheon will be held at noon Thursday, May 10, at King on 5 Restaurant, 945 King Ave.

Human trafficking is when someone is being used by force, fraud or coercion, Anderson said.

The most common types are labor trafficking, child soldiering and sex trafficking, she said.

Labor trafficking and child soldiering most often happen outside the United States, but sex trafficking, especially in the form of prostitution and pornography, are all too common in our country, Anderson said.

"People would be surprised at how much it goes on, right here in Ohio," she said. "Toledo is a hot spot for sex trafficking."

An increasing number of people are becoming aware of the human trafficking issue, Anderson said.

"When I spoke at OSU a couple years ago, not many people knew what I was talking about," she said. "That is changing."

When she was recruited for her position with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, "I didn't know much about it either.

"The more I read about it, the more sickened I became," Anderson said.

During this year's spring break, Anderson coordinated an Abolitionist Plunge, in which students from five colleges traveled to Columbus and were directly educated about the human trafficking issue.

The students met with survivors of trafficking, worked with organizations involved in the Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition, went out on the streets to provide assistance to victims or those vulnerable to being used by others, and participated in an exercise at the bus station that gave them an idea of the circumstances that can lead someone to become a victim of trafficking.

"We took away their wallet and left them with their ID, cellphone and medical insurance card and said, 'Pretend that you're a 12-year(-old) runaway who's just arrived in town -- find something to eat and a place to sleep,' " Anderson said.

Anyone can become involved in the struggle against human trafficking, she said.

"Just being aware of the problem and keeping your eyes open is a helpful thing," Anderson said.

What is also needed, especially in the area of sex trafficking, is a cultural change in America, she said.

"We need to start thinking of people involved in prostitution as being victims and not criminals, because usually they are forced into that life, if not by coercion or force then by circumstances," Anderson said. "We also need to dry up the customer base for prostitution and pornography."

The May 10 chamber luncheon will begin with registration and networking at 11:30 a.m., followed by the lunch at noon and Anderson's program at 12:30 p.m.

The cost is $20 for chamber members, $25 for guests.

For more information or to register, email chamber Executive Director Michelle Wilson via email at mwilson@grandviewchamber.org.