~ by Soli Salgado, Global Sisters Report
Spotlighting the root causes and intersections of human trafficking, the Shine the Light
virtual conference demonstrated the range of people and concrete actions needed to combat trafficking effectively.
The March 8-9 webinar, for which more than 450 people registered, included a variety of voices: survivors with moving testimonies; sisters experienced in helping victims create new lives; experts who can speak to the unseen complexities exacerbating the problem; legislators who pass bills to curb the causes and religious organizations and volunteers who raise awareness by localizing the issue. Hosted by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd National Advocacy Center, the conference began on International Women’s Day.
Speaker Sr. Winifred Doherty, who represents the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd at the United Nations, emphasized how economic systems and force migration compound the issue of labor and sex trafficking, with marginalized groups such as non-white people most often falling prey.
Doherty considered how the coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on the “fault lines in society, showing ever more clearly the structural and systemic issues that we have known, ignored or chosen not to address,” she said. The looming threat of climate change, which is also without regard for borders and boundaries, is simultaneously exposing similar inequalities.
Doherty continued, “We must connect with and challenge the very system that perpetuates abuses, exploitation and injustices including gender inequality. We must look at the big picture – the interconnectedness of the web of all existence – the planet and its peoples.”
Missionary of Jesus Sr. Norma Pimentel illustrated Doherty’s point of interconnectedness as she shared her experience of ministering to migrants on both sides of the U.S. – Mexico border. Sr. Norma spoke of the mistreatment and abuse migrants encounter on one side of the border only for it to continue when they cross frontiers.
Pimentel choked back tears of joy as she share her experience witnessing refugees in the Matamoros, Mexico, camp finally cross the bridge into the United States last week after two years of living in uncertainty, having fled their homes but being unwelcome in the United States.
During the conference’s second day which focused on calls to action, a panel of guests highlighted a few U.S. parishes that can serve as examples for how to raise awareness and help trafficking survivors through efforts in local churches.
The sum of the conference affirmed Sr. Doherty’s opening speech calling on all to tackle the many individual causes that ultimately contribute to the phenomenon of trafficking.
“We must raise our voices for new systems and new structures that seek to uphold the sacredness of life through advocating for economies of care, gender justice, eco-justice and social justice,” Doherty said.
For those of who were unable to view the conference at the scheduled times, you can now access the recordings for our 2021 Shine the Light Human Trafficking Conference: Root Causes and Intersections on Human Trafficking:
Day 1: https://youtu.be/5GlE_rnuox4
Day 2: https://youtu.be/Lrtg0YGAPJU
They also are embedded in the Digital Toolkit page, as well, https://www.gsadvocacy.org/human-trafficking-conference-packet.html
To access the Corporate Stance of the Missionary Sisters on Anti-Human Trafficking
Please click here