Hundreds attend Memphis forum spreading human trafficking awareness

Hundreds attend Memphis forum spreading human trafficking awareness

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Several organizations teamed up on Saturday to spread awareness about human trafficking, which state law enforcement leaders call the second highest rising crime in Tennessee.

It's a problem Amanda Morris Henneghan with the Memphis Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, says too few people recognize.

"It's happening here in Memphis, in our schools and our communities," said Henneghan. "And a lot of people don't really even recognize that it's happening in plain sight."

The Memphis Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, hosted a human trafficking forum at the University of Memphis. About 200 women and girls learned about human trafficking and the ways they could protect themselves and help others.

The Department of Justice defines human trafficking as a crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services, or commercial sex,

"We have a really broad range of participants at today's event," said Henneghan. " We've got just concerned parents and their daughters that decided this is something that they valued and really wanted to be in the know about."

State law enforcement leaders say human trafficking is the second-highest rising crime in Tennessee.

Participants at the forum on Saturday learned about human trafficking, practiced self-defense and heard from Toshia Shaw, the keynote speaker and a survivor.

"Unfortunately, I was a victim of human trafficking right here in Memphis, Tennessee, and that prompted me to give back because I survived," said Shaw.

In addition to sharing her story, she also hoped to inspire.

"My trafficker tried to break me, but they could never break my spirit," said Shaw. "I always knew that I was destined for greatness. I knew that I was here for a reason and a purpose."

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