In recognition of Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness Month, the Junior League of Birmingham will be hosting several virtual events statewide throughout January.
The “Human Trafficking Awareness: What You Need to Know to Help End it Now” series will include three virtual events led by the initiatives of the JLB’s Anti-Human Trafficking Committee in partnership with chapters in Anniston-Calhoun, Mobile, Montgomery and Junior League of The Shoals and presented by Regions.
According to a release, the purpose of the event series is “to promote awareness of the prominent issue and debunk common myths surrounding it.”
The event series will kick of on Jan. 7 with “Human Trafficking 101,” featuring speakers Jessie Keating Hardy and Ellie Friedman, two Birmingham attorneys and JLB members serving on the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee.
Taking place from 7-8:30 p.m., the virtual event will seek to answer questions about how to combat trafficking, focusing on how the sex trafficking industry operates and how traffickers recruit and subjugate young women and children.
“Human trafficking is largely successful because of community apathy and denial of its existence,” said Julia Meyers, chair of the JLB’s Anti-Human Trafficking Committee. “That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening right under our noses – and on an enormous scale. With I-20 and I-65 as both major human trafficking corridors running through the Birmingham-metro area, this issue should hit home with those that live, work and play in or near Birmingham.”
According to league officials, human trafficking is currently listed as the second-largest, fastest-growing enterprise in the world, occurring in every state within the country on a daily basis.
The Department of Homeland Security estimates the commercial sex industry generates $110 million each year in the Birmingham-metro area, the league notes. This does not include illegal activity that occurs in massage parlors or strip clubs, nor does it include child trafficking estimates as that is more difficult to quantify.
From the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, 90 percent or more people that are prostituted people are actually being trafficked. Advocates of human trafficking believe it to be higher than that in Alabama.
“Ending human trafficking will require working together on a state and community-wide response, and The Junior League of Birmingham is committed to bringing awareness to this issue in any and every way possible,” said Toni Leeth, JLB president.
Upcoming installments include Social Media Predators: What Parents Need to Know About Online Human Traffickers, presented by Bark on Jan. 19; and a panel discussion, Truckers Against Trafficking and the Junior League of Birmingham Present: Be the Voice to Help End Human Trafficking on Jan. 26.
To register for the events, visit https://jlbawareness.swell.gives/.