Join us here on Wednesday, November 7 at 9:15 a.m. for a real-time live blog of the Women’s Fund Forum on Human Sex Trafficking in Tennessee. Even though registration for the event at the First Amendment Center is now closed, you can follow along here, as well as by following the Women’s Fund Forum on Twitter at @WomensFundCFMT and using hashtag #WFforum.
Additionally, NPT will broadcast the forum on NPT2 (over-the-air channel 8.2 or Comcast Digital Channel 241) on Saturday, November 17, at 9 p.m. and Sunday, November 18, at 5 p.m.
The Women’s Fund Forum is an educational event focused on human sex trafficking in the state of Tennessee. To date, sex trafficking of minors is the No. 2 crime in the U.S. and is projected to be No. 1 by 2013. According to a 2011 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) report, in Davidson County alone, there were more than 100 cases of sex trafficking of minors reported in a year. Shelby, Knox and Coffee counties all reported at least 100 cases of similar trafficking, and 85 percent of all Tennessee counties reported at least one case of the trafficking of minors.
Panelists for the event include Blanche B. Cook, Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee; Stephen Fogarty, Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation; Margie Quin, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; Cary Rayson, Executive Director, Magdalene; and Derri Smith, Founder and Executive Director, End Slavery TN. LaTonya Turner, Reporter and Producer, Nashville Public Television, will moderate. Bios for panelists are available on the Women’s Fund Forum portion of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s website.
NPT president and CEO Beth Curley will also present a 10-minute segment on sex trafficking from the highly acclaimed ITVS and PBS documentary Half the Sky: Turning Oppression in Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
LIVEBLOGGING BEGINS HERE
8:59 Good morning! Were you up late watching returns and speeches? We’re just getting started here. Guests and panelists are starting to arrive and are now mingling in the reception area. Back soon with opening remarks.
9:20 What the setup scene looks like, from the Community Foundation’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/CommunityFoundationMidTN/posts/373928302693156
9:26 Congressman Jim Cooper is here. Congrats, Congressman, on your re-election!
9:31 If you’re curious how this works, set your browser to autorefresh, or refresh manually every few minutes for updates.
9:34 Holly Coltea and Elizabeth Broyhill, Women’s Fund Forum Co-Chairs, are welcoming audience.
9:37 Beth Curley, NPT president and CEO welcoming audience. “Thanks to John Seigenthaler just for being John Seigenthaler.” We concur!
9:38 Curley giving brief intro about Half the Sky: Turning Oppression in Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Introducing a ten-minute clip about sex trafficking in Cambodia. Watch along here. Under video window, chose “Sex Trafficking in Cambodia” link.
Discussion Guide for “Sex Trafficking” segment of Half the Sky: http://cdn.itvs.org/half_the_sky-discussion-traffic.pdf
9:51 Moderator LaTonya Turner welcoming panelists. Turner is a Reporter and Producer, Nashville Public Television. She specializes in education issues as part of the Southern Education Desk and NPT’s “American Graduate” project. LaTonya has also contributed to NPT’s Next Door Neighbors and Children’s Health Crisis. She has more than 20 years experience in broadcast news, first in her home state of Louisiana then in Nashville for WSMV-TV as a reporter and anchor.
Panelists and bios:
Blanche B. Cook
Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee
Cook specializes in large-scale criminal organization prosecutions, specifically sex trafficking and drug distribution. She just has just completed the first of seven trials involving thirty defendants from Somalia, all charged with sex trafficking. Prior to joining the Department of Justice, she clerked for the Honorable Damon J. Keith, of United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She also spent several years practicing Labor and Employment Law.
Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Fogarty has served with the FBI for 14 years, working in the fields of terrorism, violent crime and civil rights matters. Before joining the FBI, he was a police officer and detective in Georgia for nine years.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
Quin, who has worked for the TBI for over 14 years, oversees the AMBER Alert and Missing Children’s Clearinghouse, along with the Gang Intelligence Unit. Quin was named the 2000 TBI Agent of the Year for the TBI Drug Investigation Division and received the 1999 and 2001 FBI Recognition Award for Outstanding Contributions in Drug Enforcement. In 2009, the Department of Justice named Quin the AMBER Alert Coordinator of the Year for the United States.
Executive Director, Magdalene
Prior to being named Magdalene’s executive director, a nonprofit serving women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction, Rayson served 10 years on the Magdalene Board of Directors, including work as a clinical supervisor. After working for eight years with adolescents and families in community mental health and private practice, she helped found Renewal House. She has been honored for her work with Magdalene as a Center for Non-Profit Management “Board Member of the Year” award recipient.
Founder and Executive Director, End Slavery TN
At End Slavery TN, Smith provides human trafficking victims and their advocates a single point of contact for in-house services and service providers that restore survivors to wholeness. Previously, Derri launched an anti-human trafficking initiative among 1,200 workers for a worldwide organization and worked with populations especially vulnerable to human trafficking, including inner-city Nashville youth. She is a recipient of the 2011 regional Soroptimist International Ruby Award for Women Helping Women, and the 2012 Trafficking in America NGO Service Award.
9:53 Derri Smith beginning. “Human Traffickers are predators.” The needs they prey on cross all cultural and socio-economic bounds.
Smith: Of teenage runaways each year, about 1,000 are trafficked.
9:55 Cary Rayson introducing Magdalene. Child Sex Abuse is the biggest contributor to vulnerability to being sex trafficked.
Magdalene sees a lot of young women who are addicted to drugs and must prostitute themselves.
Sheila (Last name forthcoming) is a graduate of Magdalene and now works for the organization. Telling her story now.
Was addicted drugs and needed to continue prostitution, Found Magdalene program at an outreach event Trevecca. Came into program in Nov. 2004, got treatment. Greatest gift from program was the ability to forgive through a lot of insensitive treatment.
Sheila: Believe it’s my calling to give back to women who are like me. Working on a Psychology degree.
I’ve been in a lot of places in my life trying to get help. Magdalene worked for me because it gave me two years to work on all the issues that put me on the street in the first place.
Learn more about Magdalene house: www.thistlefarms.org/
10:06 Margie Quin talking. Pic in TN looks grave. More than 1,500 minors were trafficked last year. 94 per month. More 18,000 registered sex offenders in TN. We have supply, and demand, and that’s a recipe for disaster.
10:08 Stephen Fogarty – A lot of roads lead to Atlanta. Just go to classified, online, escort services. Trafficking is everywhere. TN seems to be at the crossroads. Again, trafficking wouldn’t exist without demand.
Question to Fogarty about relationship between offices and department. Last six months, especially, Being pro-active with Nashville Metro is helping. Being pro-active is key.
Relationship with Derri and Cary is key, because that’s where a lot of victims feel more comfortable going.
10:14 Cook stressing that sex trafficking affects everyone. All races.
Cook: What we try to avoid is profiling victims. Audience should understand this is isolated to women. It also affects young boys. The key is identifying vulnerability and those situations that are ripe for abuse.
Cook: The internet has changed are relationship to goods and services. Even though I hate to put it that way. A victim could be any number of people. I don’t think you can be aggressive enough policing what your children are doing on the internet.
10:20 Derri Smith on how victims come to End Slavery’s attention.
Human Trafficking hotline is 1-855-558-6484. For victims, anyone suspicious of activity.
10:23 Cary Rayson: I you’re wondering what you can do. Educate yourself on who might be victims of sex trafficking. We need to look carefully at what we are doing as a state to take care of the most vulnerable – i.e. victims of child sex abuse.
10:23 Cook on relationship between State and Federal Offices.
10:27 Turner: where TN compare to other states in addressing this problem.
Quin: Can’t really compare, as studies and methodologies differ. But, TBI study discovered offices felt they weren’t adequately trained to identfy situations and victims. SO TBI rolled out comprehensive training for first responders. We really need to work together. As a member of law enforcement, we’d prefer to just lock people up, but we need witness, informed people, educated people, on what it looks like, what to look for, etc.
“Human Trafficking Identification and Response” Card offers plethora of resources. Scan forthcoming.
10:34 Fogarty can’t stress enough value of NGOs (Magdalene, End Slavery) in helping victims while law goes after traffickers.
End Slavery Tennessee link: www.endslaverytn.org/
Cook: Work and training of first responders and their relationship to victims is essential. They need to take care of them, not treat them as criminals and think about them as witness in the future.
Rayson: We don’t feel a women needs to be a witness in order to heal. Through my knowledge we have not had a women be a part of a criminal investigation that is current. We don’t believe a victim has to have that experience to heal. Not a disagreement with Cook, just a different view based on what we experience and how we work.
SMith: Agrees with Rayson. Always a victim advocate. Care not dependent on prosecution, but adds that for those victims they have worked with that have gone through a legal process as witness, it has been beneficial for them. Two sides to the story.
10:42 — Q &A time!
Question: RE: Are we to be wary DCS, or are we to call? Confusing here.
Rayson: DCS not a good or bad system. But it’s the system we have.
Quin: We need to look at the process, and the two tracts available through DCS. Charging 13-year-old victims as criminals? Whoa.
Turner. There is consensus, we just need to centralize efforts.
Fogarty: Regarding interviews with victims, time and approach is of the essence. Very challenging situations. Between FBI, TBI, DCS.
10:52 Question: What’s the plan to allocate resources to help teens BEFORE they need Magdalene?
Smith: When we have foreign national victims, it’s easy to get resources. When we have United States victims, we don’t have resources. Where do we find funding? in between the cushions in the couches.
Question re: perpetrators.
Cook: Many perps were victims themselves, many motivated by money. But key, these manipulators are highly skilled. Motivated by money and exist in an underworld economy.
The average age of a prostitute is 14. And that’s the age of demand. Again, demand.
Sex trafficking. Fastest growing criminal enterprise in country if not the world. The penalties of selling a kilo of cocaine is harsher than selling a human being. REPEAT: The penalties of selling a kilo of cocaine is harsher than selling a human being. This is very lucrative business.
10:58 Question – services/training available through law enforcement agencies? Can they get help calling the local police?
Quin: depends. If they call Metro Nashville, yes. Smaller agencies, maybe not. They will kicked up to TBI.
Turner: Hotline, again, can help. Here you go:
11:01. Question, and a good one, from a young attendee. How can college-age adults get involved.
Cook: Use student organizations to raise awareness, bring in speakers, etc. Smith concurs. Contact End Slavery Tennessee. They have tip sheets you can share.
11:05 Turner, addressing panel, on what people can do to help. Cook’s collecting business cards if attendees want to go to next meeting on this topic.
That’s it! Turner thanks attendees. Grace Awh, Women’s Fund Advisory Board Chair now address audience. Gives special thanks to Sheila for sharing her powerful story.
“Tennessee’s Women and Girls are not for sale!”
For more on Women’s fund, visit: Women’s Fund.
Sorry for typos, etc.