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Mississippi Federation for Republican Women recognized for human trafficking awareness efforts

Mississippi’s Center for Violence Prevention recognized the Mississippi Federation of Republican Women for its efforts in promoting the National Human Trafficking Hotline during a ceremony in Oxford on Wednesday.

The efforts began in spring 2017, when then-MFRW President Dana Stringer sought to engage the group in a project in which the organization could make a significant impact. After learning that human trafficking was a huge problem in the state, the MFRW focused its efforts on human trafficking awareness, according to Kay Forsman, MFRW Legislation and Research Committee Chairman.

“We found that promoting the National Human Trafficking Hotline is one of the most effective ways to increase human trafficking arrests,” Forsman said. “We hope by promoting the National Human Trafficking Hotline in Mississippi we will offer hope to trafficked victims, along with sending a message to traffickers that Mississippi is not their safe haven.”

In the past year, MFRW has financed a billboard campaign, which features a set of eyes and the National Human Trafficking Hotline phone number. The group has also placed informational stickers in public restroom stalls and sought to educate the public through human trafficking awareness seminars.

The billboards are located along Mississippi’s interstates, including I-10, I-20 and I-55.

The ceremony took place on the one-year anniversary of the opening of The Tower, Mississippi’s only human trafficking shelter. Through the Center for Violence Prevention and the MFRW’s publicity efforts, dozens of human trafficking victims have received the treatment they need to recover from traumatic experiences.

“We chose ‘The Tower’ as the name of the new facility to represent a place of refuge and rest,” said Sandy Middleton, executive director of the Center for Violence Prevention. “Mississippi’s victims finally have the specialized treatment they deserve. The Tower offers trauma-informed, evidence-based programming focused on victim safety, recovery and restoration.”

The Tower offers a variety of programming for victims, including emergency and long-term shelter, case management, advocacy, therapeutic and educational services.

Thanks to the MFRW, Middleton said, the hotline is pointing more victims to safety and services while providing tips from the general public to law enforcement officers. Vivian Dailey, current MFRW president, said being a part of this initiative is wonderful. Getting statewide recognition for just one of the many activities the organization is involved in, she said, is just the icing on the cake.

“One of the tenants of [MFRW] is to educate the public, and one way we’re doing that is providing information about the National Human Trafficking Hotline,” Dailey said “When a group like the Center for Violence Prevention decided they want to recognize us, we were all for it.”

The National Human Trafficking Hotline number is 888-373-7888. Those who are victims of human trafficking or who know someone who might be are encouraged to call.