JLA Involvement to End Human Trafficking
By Stacey Chavis, Vice President, Training and Development
In 2008, the Junior League of Atlanta (JLA) adopted the commercial sexual exploitation of children as a pilot project. The involvement started to work toward the elimination of the surge of commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking of girls and young women in the Atlanta area.
Not only an Atlanta problem, the commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking of children and women happens throughout the state of Georgia. According to FBI statistics, Atlanta ranks among the top 14 cities for the number of exploited children. It is estimated between two hundred and five hundred girls are commercially sexually exploited throughout Georgia each month.
In the Junior League of Atlanta, the Commercial Sexual Exploitation/Human Trafficking Committee (CSE/HT) raises awareness in the community on the issue of sexual exploitation and human trafficking of women and children. Members have worked to raise awareness through hosting panel events, training sessions, and documentary screenings with discussions by experts working in the field all to raise awareness about commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
In the community, JLA also partners with several nonprofits including Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (GAIN), Georgia Cares, Street Grace, YouthSpark and Wellspring Living.
In 2015, JLA in partnership with Georgia Cares released a video documenting a human trafficking survivor’s story to continue to raise awareness about the depths of human trafficking and the ways young women are lured “into the life.”
JLA also partnered with Wellspring Living to establish The Junior League of Atlanta Clothing Closet for Girls. The closet provides brand new clothes to the trafficking victims as they enter Wellspring Living services.
In early 2016, JLA provided YouthSpark with a $100,000 grant to open a new center to serve exploited and at-risk youth in the Metro Atlanta area.
JLA advocated for legislation at the Capitol specifically Senate Bill 8, Safe Harbor Bill for Human Trafficking victims which passed during the 2015 legislative session.
JLA has partnered with the United Way of Greater Atlanta and other organizations to convene a nonpartisan ballot committee: SafeHarbor Yes. The SafeHarbor YES ballot committee is tasked with educating Georgia voters in support of the proposed state constitutional amendment that will appear on the November 2016 ballot to establishing a Safe Harbor Fund.
The proposed Safe Harbor constitutional amendment will establish a dedicated fund to restore children who have been bought and sold for sex in the state of Georgia, if voters vote yes on November 8. The funds would be raised annually from penalties on convicted sex offenders and fees on adult entertainment establishments. This will not be a new tax on Georgia taxpayers.
If the proposed Safe Harbor constitutional amendment passes, it is estimated to raise nearly $2 million annually. The funds raised will be dedicated to serving child sex trafficking victims.
The Junior League of Atlanta is advocating and raising awareness about the sexual exploitation and human trafficking of women and children in our community.
About Stacey Chavis
Stacey Chavis is a Public Policy Consultant. Since joining the Junior League of Atlanta in 2010, she has served as Vice President of Advocacy and Initiatives, Political Affairs Committee Chair and on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Committee (CSEC).