Those of us involved in anti-human trafficking have been working hard to rescue and aid a few victims, and that is marvelous. Every human life freed from bondage is cause for great celebration. Every victim needs a wide array of care and to know that people care about them. Recently, for example, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of donors providing household goods and furnishings for a rescued victim who was moved to a town in Tennessee for her protection.
But this approach is rather like running around with a mop to clean up after an overflowing toilet. At some point, we need to shut off the water!
Next steps Here are the next steps that End Slavery TN (ESTN) is focusing on:
- Training: We provide training for the people likely to make first contact with victims or to see the suspicious activity indicating trafficking. Currently, ESTN is training apartment managers, medical professionals, teachers and university faculty, pastors/priests, and law enforcement students. A recent Health and Human Services grant will provide training for law enforcement officers throughout Middle Tennessee, which is a big step in the right direction. Perhaps you will be the one who will open the doors, making it possible for cable installers, social workers, postal carriers and others to receive training.
- Demand Abatement: ESTN volunteers are teaching men in the John School (for men arrested for soliciting prostitutes) how their choices feed into the monstrous machine of human trafficking and support organized crime. Marna Jane said several in her audience were clearly shocked and moved and one man spoke to her of his horror at thinking of his own daughters and grandchildren being victimized.
- Prevention: We need teachers/education students/curriculum specialists/good writers to develop a curriculum that can be easily implemented by volunteers, to teach at-risk youth, parents, and staff/volunteers at immigrant and inner-city service providers about the tactics and dangers of traffickers.
- Research: Modern slavery is a hidden crime and uncovering it is the first step towards ending it. We do research to reveal trafficking patterns and aid effective strategizing.
- Spreading the Word: We speak frequently to high school and college campuses, professional organizations, civic groups, and faith communities. Everywhere we go, the most common response is “I had NO idea!”, followed by “What can I do about it?”*
Lack of awareness leads to low levels of victim identification, even by those who come in contact with them. Volunteer Lucia created a poster with the national hotline help number and tips for identifying victims. Volunteers, from truck drivers to student groups, place these posters in strategic locations, and others are translating them into languages used by area immigrants. Another friend, Daniel, donated 200 posters and arranged for at-cost printing for 1,000 more. According to police, these posters are a very effective tool leading to victim rescue.
*There is still so much to accomplish and there is a place for everyone. Let us help you find YOUR part the work to end modern day slavery in Tennessee and beyond. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org