From a Women’s Fund media release:
On Wednesday October 19, 2011 at 11:00 am at the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, (1270 Market Street, Chattanooga, TN), Lorie Street Mallchok, Chair of the Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga, will announce the launch of a partnership to publicize the Tennessee Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline, a new statewide toll free hotline designed to combat human trafficking in Tennessee. Other members (see below) of the local partnership will be on hand at the press announcement and remarks will be made by Mark Gwyn, Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Sandra Hollet, Executive Director, Partnership for Families Children and Adults, State Senator Bo Watson, and Chattanooga Police Chief, Bobby Dodd.
Creation of the 24-hour, seven day a week confidential hotline was mandated by the TN State Legislature last year as part of a set of measures to help fight human trafficking across TN. It was launched October 1, 2011.
“Human trafficking, including the trafficking of underage girls for sex is modern day slavery and it is growing, not just around the world but in our own communities.” Said Mallchok, “Being trafficked for sex is a brutal and dangerous life and this new hotline may be the beginning of a way out for young girls – but only if they, and well meaning people they may come in contact with know about it.”
The Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga, and its sister funds in Memphis and Nashville are coordinating efforts to help publicize the hotline. “There are few resources currently available to publicize the hotline and we as Women’s Funds want to turn up the heat on the issue by letting as many people as possible know about its existence,” said Liza Lentz, Coordinator of the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
The Legislature also authorized a study of the incidence of sex trafficking in TN. The study, performed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Vanderbilt Center for Community Studies was released earlier this year. It indicates that 72% of counties in Tennessee reported instances of minors trafficked for sex in the last 24 months. In Hamilton County that figure was estimated to be between 26 and 50 cases.
“Thanks to the actions of our Tennessee State Legislature, TBI conducted the first statewide study of minor sex trafficking,” says Mark Gwyn Director, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. “We are using the results to plan a series of workshops with local officials and law enforcement entities to provide training on how to combat this crime.”
The Tennessee Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline (1-855-55-TNHTH) is available to any caller, victims or potential victims or others who may have any information about anyone in TN being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave. The Hotline is staffed by professionals trained to confidentially assist any caller but the primary purpose is to help victims reach safety, protective services and social services.
In addition to the Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga, the following organizations are co-sponsoring local efforts to publicize the hotline and will work collaboratively in the months to come to get information about the hotline to the people who need it the most.
- Chattanooga Police Department
- Children’s Advocacy Center of Hamilton County
- Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga
- Girls, Inc.
- Hamilton County Coalition Against Human Trafficking
- Hamilton County District Attorney
- Hamilton County Juvenile Court
- Hamilton County Sherriff’s Department
- Partnership for Families Children and Adults
- Second Life of Chattanooga
- United Way of Greater Chattanooga
Similar efforts are also underway in Memphis, led by the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, and in Middle Tennessee led by the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee in Nashville.
The Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga is a component fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga. It is a private non-profit charitable organization governed by a local volunteer board of directors. Its mission is to provide opportunity, encouragement, knowledge, and resources through philanthropy and advocacy.
For more information, contact Kara Fagan, Director of the Women’s Fund at 423-265-0586. firstname.lastname@example.org.