Head represents Army in government discussion on human trafficking
By: Brad Rowland
On Monday, Sept. 21, government leaders and officials visited and toured the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy in Atlanta, with a Salvation Army employee making an impact on their trip. The center was also the site of a panel discussion featuring Keisha Head, who serves as the case worker for Haven Atlanta, a program dedicated to serving women who have fallen victim to commercial sexual exploitation in the Metro Atlanta area through prevention, education, case management and outreach.
Head was joined by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and first lady Marty Kemp, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, GBI Director Vic Reynolds, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, Ivanka Trump and others for an engaging and important conversation. The federal government recently announced an allocation of $100 million to organizations dedicated to fighting against human trafficking nationwide and, as a local leader in the fight, Head provided a key voice in the dialogue.
“Because I am a survivor leader in this movement, they asked to speak with me and another young lady, who is also a survivor, in regard to loopholes that need to be closed,” Head said. “With me working first-hand in service with victims, they wanted to also talk about navigating the funding, and also talk about what we’ve seen, what needs to be done, how policy can make changes and other topics.”
The group discussed The Debbie Vance Act, passed earlier in 2020 with a focus on allowing those who experienced trafficking to vacate convictions for crimes committed while they were being trafficked.
“The act is already in place, but it was a key point of discussion,” said Head. “We evaluated some of the loopholes that survivors fall into when legislation is overly strict and doesn’t allow wiggle room or room for context or interpretation.”
In addition, Head reflected on the challenges and vulnerability for youths in challenged communities, and she came away with a positive outlook on the work that is being done and will be done in the future.
“I was very encouraged by the discussion,” Head said. “First, the fact that they are coming out to see all of these programs that are being run, and not just handing out money. Making sure that the accountability piece is in place is important. I’m very happy that the meeting and collaborations are happening, especially in that they are survivor-informed. I think that is important, and it is an honor to be included.”