~ by Chris Herlinger, Global Sisters Report
Those involved in efforts to end human trafficking fear that the global pandemic and resulting lockdowns are increasing the numbers of people forced into human trafficking.
“The broad upshot is that we need to brace ourselves for 2021 and expect a huge increase in the number of people affected” by trafficking, Luke de Pulford, director of the U.K.-based anti-trafficking organization Arise, said during a Dec. 2 webinar by the Catholic Sisters Initiative of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
“We don’t know how bad the damage is yet,” de Pulford told the Global Sisters Report (GSR), “but when the statistics come in they are going to be deeply shocking and troubling.”
Those being lured into trafficking work – be it slave labor or sexual trafficking – are those “already struggling” and at risk due to poverty, Sr. Jane Wakahiu, Associate Vice President of Program Operations of Hilton’s Catholic Sisters initiative.
“COVID has exacerbated a dramatic increase in unemployment, reduced or loss of income for individuals working in informal or low wage sectors which leads to vulnerability, and at-risk individuals find themselves in precarious circumstances, Sr. Wakahiu told GSR.
In his presentation, de Pulford cited some grim realities:
In October, the World Bank said that global poverty is expected to rise in 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic “estimated to push an additional 88 to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year.
“The principal underlying cause of human trafficking is poverty and the search for better economic opportunities. Prevention is impeded not just by levels of poverty itself but by a series of vulnerabilities, including armed conflict and migration, homelessness, disabilities, lack of supportive families, and racial and ethnic prejudice.”
Another concern, de Pulford said is the mass movement of people – with “lockdowns and business closures [prompting] millions of workers to try to return to their homes. Not all of the newly unemployed reach home. Many turn to illegal means to sustain themselves.”
Child trafficking is also likely increasing, de Pulford said, “with alarming trends indicating that worse is to come.” That is because an estimated 42 to 66 million more children “could fall into extreme poverty and nearly 1.5 billion children around the world have been kept away from school for three months under national lockdowns.”
“The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation supports Catholic sisters in the fight against human trafficking because sisters have taken a strategic leadership stance and pooled their efforts to create an international network of consecrated life against trafficking in persons,” said Sr. Wakahiu. “Sisters have not only demonstrated their capability but are in the frontline supporting in prevention, protection, prayer and rehabilitation of survivors. Survivors need a variety of support, including psychological, healthcare, spiritual, and connections to employment. Sisters recognize every person’s dignity; they don’t judge but walk with the individual in their journeys of healing and wholeness.”
To read the entire article click here
To access a PDF with the Missionary Sisters Guadalupe Province Corporate Stance on Anti-Human Trafficking. Click here
The Barbara and John Jordan
Center for Children of Trauma and Domestic Violence Education
Cabrini University is pleased to announce the virtual showing of
California’s Forgotten Children
Let Their Voices Be Heard
On March 13th, Cabrini University, in collaboration with the Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition (CAAC), hosted a premier film debut which places an intensive focus on sex trafficking in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members “walked the red carpet” to attend this special screening.
From Liberty to Captivity, explores the tragic reality of sex trafficking through the stories of victim survivors and abolitionists fighting to end this crime against humanity. Woven into the film is a message of justice and hope for the future. Reflecting on the powerful effect of the abolitionists in the 19th century, this film documents one state’s fight for freedom from slavery.
With its proverbial lens, From Liberty To Captivity zooms-in on Pennsylvania’s booming and profitable sex trafficking industry, which is threatening to destroy the principle of “liberty and justice for all”. This feature-length film reveals the reality and complexities of sex trafficking crimes and this social justice issue and present the very real hope of conquering it.
The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus hold a Corporate Stance against Human Trafficking, which states, “the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus stand in solidarity with the victims of human trafficking. We condemn the use of violence, abduction, fraud, deception, coercion, or debt bondage to transport women and children from their homes for prostitutions, sexual exploitation, forced labor and/or real or virtual slavery.” In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “It is a sin against the dignity of persons and their fundamental rights that would reduce them by violence to their productive value or to a source of profit.” [Read more…]
In recent years, Americans have grown increasingly aware of human trafficking – a modern day form of slavery. The victims of this crime suffer greatly – victims ranging from children to young teens and mature individuals, are sold into prostitution, hard labor, or both. Feeling hopeless, they can lose their sense of optimism and self worth.
Anti-human trafficking organizations and support networks have been created in response to the spread of human trafficking. Through the support these organizations provide many victims of this heinous crime have found solace and a fresh outlook on life. In turn, trafficking survivors have the opportunity to share their stories and join in the effort to save others.
One such advocacy organization is Dawn’s Place, a shelter in our area, – a sanctuary, really, – for women who have fallen victim to human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Their staff members provide these women with a home-like environment where they are accompanied in their transition back into society.
The Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition (CAAC), with its Cabrini Closet initiative, has worked to provide stylish, contemporary clothing for victims of human trafficking. Concerned and generous individuals have donated new and gently used clothing, household items and gift cards to CAAC to enable the Coalition to assist organizations in helping these victims to recover. Many victims of human trafficking, at the time they are rescued, have nothing but the clothes on their backs.
To enhance their ability to assist these shelters and sanctuaries, the Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition recently hosted a sale at Cabrini College, where Coalition members and volunteers sold donated designer purses, belts, shoes, scarves, and jewelry to help fund CAAC’s efforts.
The CAAC chairperson and sale coordinator, Karol Brewer, with the help of her coalition members Cassie Woestman and Ruby Remley, said that the funds raised were beyond their expectations. They were grateful that so many people, who had no particular affiliation to the Coalition or to the College, attended the sale. While they were on campus, visitors asked members enjoyed being able to educate others on the issue, as well as their work, all while raising money to continue their efforts.
Since the Cabrini Closet’s resources are often called upon in times of emergencies, Karol says it is “a good feeling to [be able to] fulfill those needs right away.” CAAC will donate a a portion of the sale’s proceeds to the women’s shelter Dawn’s Place.
When we hear the words human trafficking we think of the horrors foreign women and children go through in their countries. From rape, to torture, to prostitution, and even death. But what not many people are aware of is that human trafficking is a practice common not just in poorer countries but in wealthy countries like the U.S. Human trafficking is not just the dark and dingy picture portrayed in films. American children and young adults being forced into prostitution and into working for someone else’s profit is human trafficking. The King of Prussia Mall, located in suburban Philadelphia, and many other malls, and concerts and sporting events in the U.S. are playgrounds for traffickers. They target runaways and vulnerable young people.
Cabrini freshman, Christian Vazquez, had a basic understanding of human trafficking from learning about it at his high school, but he admits that he was not aware of how close to home this occurrence is. Because of the assumed “…tough laws…” that the U.S. has, many Americans like Christian have no idea that human trafficking is an international occurrence and not just another misfortune third world citizens have to endure.
Thankfully, the Cabrinian community continues spreading awareness on social justice issues and providing for those in need. The Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition is an MSC ministry that promulgates the MSC’s two corporate stances: to SUPPORT the rights and dignity of all immigrants and STOP human trafficking once and for all.
“The coalition was formed to do whatever we [could] to stop human trafficking,” current chairman, Karol Brewer explains. Karol began her work with the Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition many years ago, and because of her dedication to helping the most vulnerable, the MSCs asked her to chair this initiative.
Karol is also the founder of The Cabrini Closet, “a trendy Goodwill” — as I call it — which specializes in providing human trafficking victims with new and contemporary attire to better accommodate them in their transition into society once again. She began this work after forming a friendship with an FBI agent who worked solely with trafficking victims and hearing the stories of what these people go through. “We have to do something — we can do something!” Karol recalled telling herself. So she took matters into her own hands and thought: “Why not do this on our own?” And so, The Closet was created!
To further spread the word on The Closet and promote awareness as well as support for Human Trafficking and its victims, the Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition will be hosting a sale to raise funds for the cause. The sale will take place on Wednesday, March 16th in the College’s Grace Hall Atrium from 10:00 am-3:00 pm. (See flyer on page 6.) They will be selling designer purses, shoes, belts, and many more items, which were donated to The Closet by generous people from all over the country. These items will be sold at reasonable prices.
Karol has reached out to top designers to ask them to donate at least one of their bags. She has sent out about 15 requests to designers ranging from Michael Kors to Ralph Lauren and even Coach. She is still waiting for replies but is hoping at least one agrees. Being as though this is the first fundraiser the coalition has hosted, she expressed her nervousness for the turnout of the sale. But she was enthused about the Cabrini community and their support of the cause. Though she admits that it is a lot of work, Karol finds it all to be exceptionally “gratifying…[and] wonderful that [we] get to do this.”
All proceeds will go directly towards the Coalition to provide funds and gift cards for trafficking victims, and to Dawn’s Place, a shelter in Southeastern Pennsylvania for women who are victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse.
The Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition joined with advocates from all over Pennsylvania at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg on Tuesday, June 9th, to visit legislators to discuss Senator Greenleaf and Senator Leach’s upcoming Safe Harbor Bill to protect minors who have been trafficked.
What does Safe Harbor do?
S.B. 851 would require law enforcement to report to the Department of Human Services any encounter with a minor who has been subject to sexual exploitation. The Department will develop and implement a state-wide protocol to deliver safe long-term housing, education, life-skills training, and counseling to the children who have been exploited. The bill would require that police be trained to identify and assist sexually exploited children. Most importantly, the bill would require that sexually exploited children be diverted from the criminal justice system to more appropriate human services.
Senator Daylin Leach (shown at podium) said, “There is no such thing as a child prostitute. There are only victims and survivors of child rape. S.B. 851 would establish a non-punitive response for juvenile sex-trafficking victims, and provide them with support to address their trauma and specialized services, which would be partially funded through enhanced penalties for traffickers, facilitators, and patrons of prostitution wherein the victim was a minor. Juveniles involved in sex-trafficking are already considered crime victims under international and federal law. Pennsylvania must advance anti-human trafficking reforms such as this legislation to protect these innocent children.”
The Cabrini Closet, NYC is Now Accepting Donations
Thanks to the hard work of the boys from St. Raymond’s High School, the Cabrini Closet NYC is now able to accept donations! CMC Missioner Melanie will be in the Cabrini Closet this Friday, May 1st from 2-6 pm to accept fashionable clothing, accessories, and gift cards. If you’re in the area, please feel free to stop by and get an advance look at this wonderful new ministry for survivors of human trafficking!
If you wish to make a donation but cannot make this date and time, please contact Melanie at 732-322-2956 or CabriniAandA@aol.com to schedule another time.
Cabrini Closet, NYC, 220 E 19th St, Lower Level, New York, NY 10003