On Tuesday, the cities of Birmingham and Mountain Brook announced that they have declared themselves “TraffickingFree Zones” in advance of the World Games that will be held in Birmingham in 2021.
Birmingham is the most populous city in America to make the declaration. The two cities join Vestavia Hills in proclaiming vigilance against the blight of human trafficking.
The proclamation requires all city staff to receive training on human trafficking and formalizes the cities’ “zero-tolerance” policy on buying sex at work.
The proclamation asserts the flood of new people brought to the Birmingham area for the World Games could mean “an increase in tourists seeking entertainment, including commercial sex, increasing the potential risk for exploitation and human trafficking.”
“The first step in eliminating human trafficking in our community is to educate others,” the proclamation goes on to say.
The TraffickingFree Zone program the two cities are joining is a nationwide initiative of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT).
Birmingham Councilor Crystal Smitherman, resolution sponsor, said, “Birmingham was the epicenter of the Civil Rights movement 60 years ago, and we once again have the opportunity to lead the nation in the fight for civil and human rights. We as a city take this issue incredibly seriously, and look forward to working with the countless trafficking organizations that make up the Child Trafficking Solutions Project on future endeavors to end child trafficking and keep our children safe.”
Mountain Brook Mayor Stewart Welch remarked, “The City of Mountain Brook takes this issue very seriously, and we vow to train our entire city staff, including first responders, to ensure that our children are safe and that our community is informed about human trafficking and what to do if they suspect a case of human trafficking.”
“The community response to the TraffickingFree Zone initiative is a testament to how seriously the entire Birmingham community, and the state of Alabama, is taking the issue,” advised USIAHT CEO Geoff Rogers.
Additional support for the movement comes from a Birmingham-area anti-trafficking coalition, the Child Trafficking Solutions Project (CTSP). The CTSP, which will handle the groundwork for the staff training, is a collaboration between the Children’s Policy Council and the Jefferson County Family Court.
Jordan Giddens, community engagement coordinator for the CTSP, said, “Our coalition, representing over 50 organizations across the Birmingham metro has worked tirelessly to saturate the entire Birmingham community with anti-trafficking awareness, and we are overjoyed that municipalities across the entire state are taking the steps to declare themselves a TraffickingFree Zone.”
Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: email@example.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.