Sadly, modern-day slavery is a pressing and growing problem even in East Tennessee. By most accounts, labor-slavery predominates over sexual-exploitation here, and most slaves are trafficked domestically, rather than imported from abroad. I would like to tell you briefly about an organization with which I work: I recently joined the board of the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking (CCAHT). When I first encountered the CCAHT, it was in a process of re-structuring, and seeking new members. I was initially approached to recruit board members, but through that process, I joined the board myself.
Previously, the CCAHT had been growing from the bottom up, bubbling up as a response to a felt and demonstrated need in our community. Modern-day slavery is a networked problem, and requires a networked solution, in order to bring multiple stakeholders together to combat Human Trafficking. Although there are many talented people and agencies in East Tennessee devoted to the problem (e.g., Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Family Justice Center), there was simply no “clearinghouse,” no central address to plan approaches, mobilize resources, coordinate actions, and ensure adequate and efficient response to a problem of this scale.
After asset mapping and analysis, the new board realized that the CCAHT had reached a crossroads, and in order to succeed, grow, and thrive, it needed to transition from its grassroots beginnings as a volunteer-driven organization into a talented, staff-driven organization. In conversation with colleagues and counterparts, we learned that a staffed network model has worked elsewhere (e.g., CAASE, Chab Dai), and we believe that it is time for East Tennessee to pursue this model, in order to eliminate modern-day slavery in our own backyard. We are seeking professional leadership to ensure that one central institution can marshal for-profit, non-profit, and governmental agencies in a concerted effort to end slavery in Knoxville. What’s the alternative? The counter-trafficking movement in Knox County could continue to operate in silos, but there would be no unified front to fight this inhuman injustice in our city.
Simply put, at The Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking we envision a community united and equipped to end modern day slavery – a place where everyone is free from injustice and exploitation.email print