Helena passes proclamation for human trafficking awareness

Published 2:38 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2019

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA – When it comes to combating the fight against human trafficking, consider the city of Helena and the members of the Helena City Council supporters of eliminating the deplorable crime after approving a proclamation that the month of January be dedicated as human trafficking awareness month.

The proclamation was approved at the council meeting on Monday, Jan. 14, as Tachandra Bell with The Junior League of Birmingham discussed how the organization is working to eliminate human trafficking.

“I’m a proud citizen of Helena but I’m also a member of Junior League of Birmingham,” Bell said. “We’re working with Shelby County and Jefferson County and all the local cities to try and bring awareness to human trafficking. We have several big initiatives going on; we have one with UAB which will be an intake center where we can take those victims who are not young enough to go to children’s hospital but not quite an adult. We’re also working with hotels and motels so they can spot human trafficking when it comes through, as well as truck stops by putting up notices. It’s just important to keep awareness because people don’t realize how prevalent it is right now with the internet and social media and taking advantage of children. So, we want to bring an end to this.”

The proclamations read that human trafficking can take many forms, including “debt bondage, forced marriage, slavery and commercial sexual exploitation, in every case it goes against the core principles of individual freedom and civil rights that our state and nation stand for.”

The U.S. Department of State estimates that anywhere from 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year.

Helena Mayor Mark Hall, who spent several years in law enforcement, said sometimes human trafficking can be a result of a runaway juvenile.

“Many times, having a law enforcement background, sometimes it’s just a runaway and they become part of this network moving from home to home and they’re abused and sexually abused in multiple ways,” Hall said. “Sometimes the family knows they’re runaways and they don’t care so it’s a very good project and proclamation. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, but it’s happening and it’s happening here.”

The Junior League of Birmingham is an organization of approximately 2,300 women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

For more information, visit Jlbonline.com.