Council approves resolution declaring Birmingham nation’s largest Trafficking Free Zone
|PRESS RELEASE Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Contact: Cody Owens
According to the U.S Institute Against Human Trafficking, “The (TFZ) program is a community-based initiative to reduce the number of buyers, whose continuous financial investments create an illicit market for traffickers to exploit young victims. The TFZ program is implemented in collaboration with community members and leaders, law enforcement, businesses, schools, healthcare organizations, churches and the media, all while using technology to reach buyers and victims on a massive scale.”
Councilor Crystal Smitherman, who sponsored the resolution, said that, “The sex super-highways of America, I-65 and I-20 intersect in Birmingham, making it a geographical hotbed for human trafficking. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that the commercial sex industry, excluding child trafficking, is a $110 million industry in Birmingham, which is half of their estimate for Atlanta [$220 million]. That stat alone shows how pervasive and far-reaching this issue is, affecting every community and neighborhood throughout the Birmingham metro.”
During the meeting, over a dozen representatives from local organizations gathered around the podium and spoke to the importance of the resolution.
“This was really a community effort,” said Jordan Giddens, community engagement coordinator with the Child Trafficking Solution Project. “As someone who has been personally victimized by a trafficker in this city, it’s honestly a dream come true to have the city take such a vocal stance against this. We are grateful and look forward to working with the City in the future to continue fighting this issue.”
Smitherman said she will continue to work with local organizations to combat this issue and help push future legislation forward.