A group of Franklin volunteers with End Slavery Tennessee organized an event called “The Red Sand Ceremony” on Monday at Aspen Grove Park to shed light on the evils of human trafficking.
End Slavery Tennessee’s mission is to provide comprehensive aftercare for human trafficking survivors and address the problem through advocacy, prevention and training of front line professionals.
Local Franklin group leader Dana Hardy explained they’re forming partnerships with churches and schools to host presentations and training to bring awareness.
“We have really tried to focus on developing relationships with churches and schools,” she said.
Hardy was very proud that Tennessee had been named the No. 1 state in the country for its anti-slavery legislation, however, she realizes there is still more work to be done.
“We want to acknowledge all those overlooked victims of human trafficking who remain in darkness,” Hardy said.
Many local faith leaders and supporters gathered to participate in the ceremony, which involved pouring red sand into sidewalk gaps, representing the overlooked victims of human trafficking.
City of Franklin Mayor Ken Moore participated in the ceremony and commended the work of the Franklin Police Department, which has detectives assigned to handle human trafficking cases.
“I think it’s very important as a city that we support these efforts and work to stop human trafficking and slavery,” Moore said.
Faith leaders offered prayer while all participants involved in the ceremony read staggering facts about human trafficking.
Some of the facts read included:
Referrals to End Slavery Tennessee over the last three years have increased 300%.
The average age that a female is entered into trafficking is 13.
The average age that a male is entered into trafficking is 11.
Women are just as likely to recruit and/or traffic children as men.
The Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-855-558-6484. For more information on End Slavery Tennessee, go to https://www.endslaverytn.org.
By Austin Thomas