Pro Bono News

Fighting Human Trafficking, Domestic Violence and Opening Doors for Louisville Women (KY)

Friday, March 22, 2019

Fighting Human Trafficking, Domestic Violence and Opening Doors for Louisville Women

"As we approach the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, we consider the progress women have made in our nation, our state and our city, as well as the progress that still eludes us as a society.

Mayor Greg Fischer and his Metro Government team are focused on equity, on creating opportunity and equal access to resources for all. And the mission of Metro’s Office for Women aligns with this community goal. Our team, which operates within the city’s Office of Resilience and Community Services, collaborates with many organizations and individuals to advance equality and equity for women locally and statewide.

We wanted to share news about the critical progress we’re making now, since March is Women’s History Month, but this work is happening every day, and its impact is felt by more than women.

Year-round, we’re working with community partners to reduce domestic violence, educate the public about human trafficking, lower eviction rates, and provide a clearinghouse of information about programs and projects affecting women.

For example, we partnered with the Criminal Justice Commission, Louisville Metro Police Department, the Center for Women & Families, the Mary Byron Foundation, and Kentucky court officials, among others, to advocate for legislative change to make non-fatal strangulation a felony in Kentucky. This work is essential because the tragic reality is, domestic violence victims — primarily women — are significantly more likely to eventually die at the hands of their abusers if their abuse has included an incident of strangulation.

During this legislative session, a bill making strangulation a felony offense, aiming to reduce fatalities from domestic violence, has been passed with bipartisan support.

As a member of the Louisville Metro Human Trafficking Task Force, the Office for Women works with others to address the terrible practice of forcing humans into labor, sexual slavery or sexual exploitation.

Led by Dr. Jennifer Middleton and Kristina Smith, the task force works with community partners, including Catholic Charities, University of Louisville Kent School of Social Work, victims, survivors, Circuit Court Clerk David Nicholson, United Nations Association Kentucky, the Center for Women & Families, People Against Human Trafficking and LMPD, whose Special Victims Unit focus has expanded to include human trafficking.

In February, the Office for Women helped to sponsor the University of Louisville Women’s Center’s annual human trafficking conference, which drew 450 participants eager to learn more and do something about this growing national issue. And we’re partnering with the Muhammad Ali Center, Jefferson County Public Schools and Metro United Way to sponsor Generation WOW, a new mentoring pilot program for girls in Louisville.

Four hundred high school girls were paired with 200 mentors who have experience and expertise in the area of interest expressed by the girls.

Another issue we’re addressing is affordable housing. For decades, we have known that the lack of affordable housing has had a negative impact on the lives of poor and marginalized people..."

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