Greater Chattanooga Hospitality Association Receives First Tennessee Human Trafficking Awareness Certification

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Greater Chattanooga Hospitality Association board of directors has become Tennessee’s first such organization to complete certification training for Human Trafficking awareness.

The GCHA has committed itself to become a signee of the Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct, a certification given by End Child Prostitution and Trafficking, an international organization that fights human trafficking. 

Hamilton County has reported more than 100 cases of adult sex trafficking and up to 50 cases of trafficking in minors.  The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Vanderbilt University conducted a statewide study that found there were more than 100 cases of human sex trafficking documented by social service agencies in Chattanooga. At the time, no local law enforcement agency had any reports of sex trafficking. 

Tennessee is ranked #1 in the USA in its efforts to fight sex trafficking in particular by “Shared Hope” an International organization who is leading in prevention strategies, restoration programs and justice initiatives to combat trafficking in the U.S. and abroad.  

Ann Coulter, a volunteer with the Women’s Fund of Chattanooga said, “The Shared Hope International study found that 78 of the state’s 95 counties had reported at least one instance of human trafficking. Here in the Chattanooga area sex trafficking is the dominate form of this awful crime.  Human trafficking, including the trafficking of underage girls for sex is modern day slavery according to the Department of Homeland Security and it is growing, not just around the world but in our own communities."

The GCHA’s mission is:   To promote and enhance the lodging, restaurant, tourism, and allied industries through education, government relations, environment excellence and community service. Members of the association (hotel properties and related companies) have been urged to share the certification training with their employees to raise awareness of this serious crime. One hotel, the Doubletree Hotel has already received its certification, according to Bill Mish, the hotel general manager.

In Tennessee, human trafficking is defined as: recruitment, smuggling, transporting, harboring, buying or selling of a person through force, threats, fraud, deception, or coercion for the purposes of exploitation, prostitution, pornography, migrant work, sweat shops, domestic servitude, forced labor, bondage, peonage, or involuntary servitude. 

For more information or to report suspected human trafficking call Tennessee Human Trafficking Resources Center Hotline 855.558-6484.

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