• The month of January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
• Pope Francis’ January 1st World Day of Peace, 2015, message* is “Slaves No More, But Brothers and Sisters.”
• January 11, 2015, is National Awareness Day: Human Trafficking.
• Feb. 8, 2015, Catholics worldwide will keep a Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.
*Pope Francis’ challenge includes recognizing the “equal dignity” of our brothers and sisters who are enslaved and exploited, and to work to end human trafficking, trade in migrants and prostitutes, slave labor, and the enslavement of women and children.
Information, ways to help, and a prayer ritual follow. Please consider sharing this with others.
1. Know the Extent of the problem
Trafficking in children is on the increase, according to the latest report released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons was released November 24, 2014, in Vienna, Austria and shows that one in three known victims of human trafficking is a child – a 5 per cent increase compared to the 2007-2010 period.
Girls make up 2 out of every 3 child victims, and together with women, account for 70 % of overall trafficking victims worldwide. A recent study from Walk Free, an anti-slavery organization, puts the number of slaves at around 36 million, which is 0.5% of the world’s population. 36 million is a little over half the population of Britain, well over the population of a number of European nations, including Greece, and just about the population of Scandinavia put together. When framed in those terms, that number starts to seem pretty terrifying — though even one person in slavery is a serious matter.
2. Know about trafficking laws. In the U.S.:
President Obama has signed into law H.R. 4980, also known as the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act. This bipartisan legislation aims to reduce child sex trafficking, increase adoptions and improve child support collections. It was introduced in the House by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI), Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert (R-WA), and Ranking Member Lloyd Doggett (D-TX).
The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act will encourage states to combat sex trafficking among youth in foster care, promote normalcy for foster youth, help move more children from foster care into adoptive homes or the homes of relatives, and increase the amount of child support provided to families in which one parent resides outside of the U.S. The legislation is fully funded.
3. Three Action Steps from Project IRENE: firstname.lastname@example.org:
• Buy Fair Trade Key Chains
Poverty is one of the many factors which make individuals vulnerable to trafficking. Key chains made by women at the Regina Center in Nongkhai, Thailand provide income generating opportunities for women. The women can stay in their villages and keep their children in school. These are two effective strategies for reducing sex trafficking.
These key chains are $5.00 each. The Regina Center is one of the partners of HandCrafting Justice which is a member of the Fair Trade Federation. These key chains can be ordered at ECPAT USA. Go to www.ecpatusa.org. Email address is email@example.com. Even though buying a key chain might seem an insignificant act, ponder the impact of everyone reading this information deciding to gift others with these key chains during the holiday season.
• Encourage More Information in Libraries
Ask libraries to purchase materials related to trafficking. Possibilities include What I Have Been Through Is Not Who I Am; Not a Choice, Not a Job; Rape is Rape; Girls Like Us; The Natashas; Trafficking in Persons Report, published annually by the U.S. Department of State; Life Interrupted.
• Purchase fair trade, sweat-shop free products (clothing, chocolate, coffee, tea, etc.).
4. Reduce Runaways
Another way to reduce trafficking is to reduce the number of runaway boys and girls. They are prime targets for traffickers. If all the youth who run away in the United States lived in one city, it would be the 5th largest city in the country. If you notice runaway young people in your neighborhood, or anyone who shows signs of abuse or restricted living, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888.
5. Pray, including with others
My thanks to Rose Mary Meyer, BVM, at Project IRENE (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the follow prayer that I have slightly adapted:
Human Trafficking Prayer
All: Creating and compassionate Source of Life, living and acting within each part of your cosmos, we gather to pray for an end to human trafficking, which degrades all those, created in your image, who suffer from, who profit from, and who perpetuate, this crime against humanity. We pray for strength to continue our anti-trafficking efforts, so that all may experience the preciousness of human life. Amen.
We remember Sudanese St. Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947), patron for victims and survivors of human trafficking. She was kidnapped when she was seven years young and sold into slavery. Her abductors gave her the Arabic name Bakhita which means “fortunate one.” She was sold a number of times. She met the Canossian Sisters, and was baptized and confirmed, taking the name Josephine Bakhita. She entered the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossia in 1893. Canonized in October 2000, she became the first Sudanese saint. Let us give thanks for this Sudanese woman who personally experienced being trafficked. May she advocate with us for justice for trafficked persons! (“The Saint of Human Trafficking,” Theresa Baldini, MM. Maryknoll Magazine)
Pope Francis has spoken about trafficking a number of times. He reflected: “I have always been distressed at the lot of those who are victims of human trafficking! … Where is your brother or sister who is enslaved? Where is the brother and sister whom you are killing each day in clandestine warehouses, in rings of prostitution, in children used for begging, in exploiting undocumented labor. Let us not look the other way. There is greater complicity than we think. The issue involves everyone! This infamous network of crime is now well established in our cities, and people have blood on their hands as a result of their comfortable and silent complicity.” (The Joy of the Gospel)
Litany Against Trafficking
Alternate readers. Response: Source of All Life, may our efforts to end human trafficking be effective.
We mourn the degradation of those who are victims of human trafficking: Source of All Life, may our efforts to end human trafficking be effective.
We rejoice in the efforts to gain knowledge and understanding of the tragedy of human trafficking: Source of All Life . . . .
We grieve the human trafficking associated with sporting events: Source of All Life . . . .
We rejoice in the anti-trafficking training of hotel, restaurant and other personnel in geographic areas near major sporting events: Source of All Life . . . .
We grieve our failure to drink only Fair Trade coffee and to eat only Fair Trade chocolate: Source of All Life . . . .
We rejoice in consumers who are becoming more aware of and committed to purchasing Fair Trade products whose production aims to be traffick-free: Source of All Life . . . .
We grieve the lack of local anti-trafficking laws: Source of All Life . . . .
We rejoice when people advocate for anti-trafficking laws in cities, counties, states, and nations: Source of All Life . . . .
We grieve our inattention to trafficking in our local area: Source of All Life . . . .
We rejoice in those who take seriously their connection with all other human beings and make calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1 888 373 7888: Source of All Life . . . .
Reflection: Take a few moments to try to absorb the immensity of the global, national, and local trafficking reality as well as the possibilities for actions to stop this human tragedy.
Instrumental Music and Reflection, ending with
All: In our hearts, may each of us commit to an action that is possible—prayer, education, other actions.
Reflective Silence to choose your commitment
Commitment and Closing Prayer
All: I commit myself to fulfilling the action I have just chosen in order to show solidarity with members of the human family who are trafficked.
Creating and compassionate Source of Life, we thank you for your love of each of us. May we model your love by our concern for our trafficked sisters and brothers. May they experience in their lives the power of being treasured by us and our efforts to free this world, locally and globally, of human trafficking. This we ask in great confidence now and in the future. Amen.
Music such as We Shall Overcome, City of God, Make Me a Channel of Your Peace