Christmas and its rich mythology call us to look past the serene pictures on cards and enter a story of homelessness, poverty, political repression and slaughter, refugees, and being strangers in a land where ancestors were enslaved for being “different.”
It is fitting that the week after Christmas begins National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, followed by days calling our attention to this blight: January 11, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day; January 17th (sometimes listed as the 15th or 19th), World Day of Migrants and Refugees (so easily prey to traffickers); February 8, International Trafficking Day and feast of Saint Josephine Bakhita (patron saint of victims of trafficking); even February 5, Super Bowl Sunday, when sex trafficking has been known to increase.
Those aware of the intrinsic bonds and interconnections among all life feel the pain of the children, men and women forced into bondage with no hope of rescue. I am grateful to Rose Mary Meyer, BVM, for providing the following Trafficking Ritual that can be used at any time. Human trafficking, Rose Mary reminds us, is happening every day, all year long, locally and globally.
Trafficking Ritual 2017
Merciful and loving Creator, we have gathered together to hold in prayer those whom you cherish but who are bound by the trauma of labor and/or sex trafficking. These children, women and men are hidden in plain sight among us, are clothed in fear-filled silence, are victims of trauma unable to break free. May we open our eyes and our hearts to these persons who are trafficked in our midst.
Those caught in the horror of trafficking are missing persons. Some have been missing for years. Some have been discovered in graves. Some have bodies that are diseased, mutilated, tortured. Some have spirits that are damaged psychologically. Many of these women and men are missing in multiple ways but are in our midst.
Source: Not a Choice, Not a Job, Janice G. Raymond. Adapted
Nikola, a young woman who is trafficked, feels she is of no value. She feels she is in exile, away from all she knew growing up — family, home, friends, school, music, country of origin.
Samantha, a person who is trafficked, feels like a caged bird, caged in a room where she feels she is imprisoned by mistake, with no understanding of why this happened to her or how she is going to escape. She is desperate.
Othello feels trapped in the horror of labor trafficking. He has no idea where he is or how to find his way back home in London. He is brought to the restaurant everyday around five in the morning where he washes dishes, stacks and unstacks chairs, scrubs floors, peels vegetables and cuts fruit. He eats what’s left on the plates of those who come to the restaurant to sit down and enjoy one another and the food. When the work is finished after the last customers leave around 10 or 11 PM, he is taken to a house where other men who are trafficked live. Each is locked from the outside in a small room with a mattress. In a few hours all are awakened and driven back to the restaurant.
Karena met Dusty at a club. He bought her drinks and offered to take her home. She was naïve in believing that he was concerned about her. Home that night became a house where three other trafficked women already lived. Dusty raped her the first night she was there. She’s still recovering from all the unspeakable violence that she experienced from being trafficked, but she is deeply grateful for whoever reported what that person believed was happening in this house owned by the trafficker. The house was raided by law enforcement. She is now stitching her life together, slowly healing her physical and psychological wounds that will take a long time and many caring, loving, compassionate, understanding support people. She knows she will be supported by these people on her life journey.
We realize that children and adults are forced or deceived and moved to unfamiliar places for forced labor, for sexual exploitation. Their humanness is degraded. We feel sad. We feel angry. We feel fear at times. We feel helpless at times. We don’t always contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline — 1 888 373-7888 — when we might have witnessed a trafficking situation. May we strengthen each other in our commitment to open our eyes to the reality of trafficking and make calls, give only Fair Trade items as gifts, drink only Fair Trade coffee, tea, cocoa; feed our chocolate cravings with only Fair Trade chocolate, and help end this global and local slave trade in any way we can. May we mirror in our actions the mercy and love of our Creator of all beings.
Creator of all beings, may we model your mercy, love, and compassion for our sisters and brothers who are trafficked.
We remember those caught in the web of local and global trafficking who are being moved from one unknown place to another.
We remember those who are forced to live unspeakably horrible lives as humans who are labor and/or sex trafficked.
We remember those who suffer unimaginable loneliness, nostalgia, physical and psychological pain.
We remember our sisters and brothers who are trapped in the horrors of trafficking and still hold on to hope for freedom.
May these persons who are trafficked
feel included rather than excluded
in societies worldwide.
May they experience renewing opportunities,
hear a strong voice for justice
and witness courageous actions against trafficking.
May they be abundantly blessed
with mercy and love from all of us,
inspired by our Creator of mercy and love.
Amen. Amen. Amen.
Text created by Rose Mary Meyer, BVM