County proclaims January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month

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Left to right: Commissioner Kerry Watson, Blakely Hopper, Chairman Kenneth Walker, Gail Swafford, Cullman County District Judge Kim Chaney and Commissioner Garry Marchman (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN – The Cullman County Commission on Tuesday proclaimed January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Cullman. Cullman County District Judge Kim Chaney, along with Blakely Hopper and Gail Swafford from Brooks’ Place Child Advocacy Center of Cullman were presented with the official proclamation at the meeting. 

The proclamation referred to human trafficking as a “crime against humanity.” Human trafficking is a global problem and according to Anti Trafficking League Against Slavery (ATLAS), “an estimated 5,000 victims of human trafficking are being moved through Alabama each month.”

The proclamation also stated that close to 25 percent of international trafficking victims end up in the southeast United States, including Alabama. The county commission urged residents to “help support efforts and take actions to end human trafficking.”

At the beginning of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force Chairperson Kathy Wilson pointed happily to a new study showing that Alabama has made dramatic improvements in its response to the crime of modern slavery.  Shared Hope International (SHI), a faith-based organization that fights trafficking and works to help victims recover, is celebrating the results of its annual Protected Innocence Challenge “report card” for states’ responses to child sex trafficking, and its findings give Alabama a top score. At the outset of the program in 2011, Alabama scored a troubling D. After improving to a B over six years, the state was one of 10 to earn an A on the 2018 national report card.  Out of 51 entries including the District of Columbia, Alabama was ranked fourth overall. (See more at www.cullmantribune.com/articles/2019/01/03/alabama-enters-human-trafficking-awareness-month-high-marks)

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