Class for prostitutes helps turn their lives around

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Dozens of prostitutes are arrested every year in Memphis and there are almost as many reasons for why they get involved in the sex industry in the first place.

Several groups of people in Memphis are working to lower those numbers and help women get off the streets.

Eyleen Farmer is part of a class called "Lives Worth Saving." The class meets monthly in an effort to help women who work as prostitutes start living productive lives.

"We really do create a culture of honor where they feel welcomed and valued and here is a place where you are safe and loved," Farmer said.

The Lives Worth Saving class started in 2014 as a collaboration between Memphis Police Department, District Attorney General's Office, Shelby County Health Department, and local nonprofits.

The 4 1/2 hour course teaches the women about the health and safety risks of prostitution, which appears to be an eye-opening approach that is paying off.

"They're getting out of that lifestyle and they're coming back to the group to help other women, other men, get out of that lifestyle," District Attorney General Amy Wierich said.

So far, more than 200 women have taken the class. Once they've completed it, their prostitution charges are dropped and they're connected with resources such as medical care, legal aid, housing, and even jobs.

Five former prostitutes now work with Farmer at her honey and herb organization, Thistle and Bee.

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.