- The Partnership for Freedom has announced the three winners of its Pathways to Freedom human trafficking prevention challenge: Atlanta, Chicago and Minneapolis.
- The program will promote the development of citywide plans for better preventing human trafficking and supporting survivors.
- Each city's funding will support one senior fellow's salary for two years, in addition to technical assistance.
The three fellows chosen for this program will report to the mayor or executive-level staff in their respective cities. They will work to develop new anti-trafficking approaches that could include policies, practices, funding and building new relationships. The Pathways to Freedom digital platform will feature the fellows' work so leaders in other cities can learn about their progress and possibly implement similar approaches.
Human trafficking for labor and sex purposes has become a significant problem throughout the country. The practice has been discovered in urban, suburban and rural areas nationwide. During the last decade in particular, organizations have been devising ways to stop trafficking and to support victims. Traffickers often target vulnerable populations — such as low-income residents or immigrant populations — and take advantage of them.
This winners of this challenge showcase that, no matter how smart a city is, it is never fully immune to the dangers of trafficking. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lane Bottoms all released statements about the program, noting that their cities are committed to "tackling the root causes" of human trafficking and protecting vulnerable communities.
"Cities have a critical role to play in the fight against human trafficking and we are confident that the work of Atlanta, Chicago, and Minneapolis will inspire and encourage local solutions in other communities across the country,” said Catherine Chen, director of investments for Humanity United, in a statement.
A number of industries already have joined the fight to expose the problem of human trafficking and to combat it. Some airports, including Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, have posted notices in restrooms warning people of the signs of human trafficking and encouraging them to report any suspicious behavior that looks like it might involve trafficking. The trucking industry is also intimately involved in combating the practice. It has spurred wide-reaching organizations such as Truckers Against Trafficking, and individual carriers like FedEx have launched their own anti-trafficking campaigns.
The Pathways to Freedom challenge encourages innovative ways to address the problem, especially comprehensive solutions beyond the typical law enforcement tactics.