According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, human trafficking is a demand-driven crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services or commercial sex and particularly impacts women and children. It is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the country, and cases have been reported in every county in the state.
“I’m excited to invest in and partner with these remarkable organizations that are at the forefront of this important fight,” said Gov. Lee. “Human trafficking has no place in our state, and I’m proud to support our law enforcement and non-profit partners.”
The Tennessee FY21-22 budget included over $5 million in funding for key groups fighting human trafficking and supporting victims including:
- $3.5M to End Slavery Tennessee
- $1.2M to Her Song, a Ministry of the Tim Tebow Foundation
- $600K to Tennessee Anti- Slavery Alliance
- $100K to Thistle Farms
Today, Gov. Lee welcomed partners to the State Capitol including the following organizations:
“The unprecedented investment in community-based services will increase critical housing opportunities at the local level across Tennessee and intensify evidence-based and trauma-responsive programming for human trafficking survivors,” said Margie Quin, Chief Executive Officer of End Slavery Tennessee.
“Gov. Lee’s dedicated support to the fight against human trafficking is an embodiment of values all Tennesseans hold dear- a willingness to face a challenge head on, to offer help rather than hide from a problem. We are immensely grateful for the governor’s volunteer spirit and the ability to continue to serve the most vulnerable of our Tennessee communities,” said Natalie Ivey, Executive Director of Grow Free Tennessee.
“Tennessee is already one of the most proactive states in the country when it comes to fighting human trafficking. Today’s historic announcement pushes our state, and its response, to an entirely new level of responsiveness when it comes to preventing traffickers from doing even more harm, protecting victims needing a way out, and promoting healing for hundreds of survivors ready for a second chance at life,” said Hal Cato, Chief Executive Officer of Thistle Farms.
“Tennessee stays at the forefront of counter-trafficking work – continually leveraging public and private partnerships to create and refine an efficient and impactful model for victim care and system change. Those of us in this work know rescue does not equal freedom, but healing does. The funding announced today is a catalyst ensuring opportunities for healing through comprehensive and collaborative service delivery across our state,” said Rachel Sumner Haaga, Founder & Executive Director of Restore Corps.
“Thank you to Gov. Lee and the many organizations in Tennessee that have been working so hard to reach some of the most vulnerable people in our country. Right now, there are only enough safe beds to serve 10 percent of trafficking victims here in the US – we can no longer let this be the case. Not on our watch. My foundation and I are committed to increasing holistic survivor care across the country and around the world through our ministry, Her Song, and look forward to serving alongside the great State of Tennessee to continue pushing back this darkness,” said Tim Tebow, Founder and Chairman of the Tim Tebow Foundation
If you suspect someone you know is involved in human trafficking, you can call the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-855-558-6484.