In solidarity with National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, for the week of January 9-13 Cabrini High begins each day with prayers for an end to this sinful tragedy highlighting facts about trafficking and ways we can advocate and fight against it. Yesterday, on #humantraffickingawarenessday, Cabrini students participated in a “New Year, New Dress” day, where students leverage fashion and creativity to promote the dignity of all women and raise funds for the anti-trafficking efforts of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and the Cabrini Mission Foundation.
Every year since 2010, the President of the United States has dedicated the month to raise awareness about human trafficking and to educate the public about how to identify and prevent this crime.
During this month, we celebrate the efforts of foreign governments, international organizations, anti-trafficking entities, law enforcement officials, survivor advocates, communities of faith, businesses and private citizens all around the world to raise awareness about human trafficking
President Biden has proclaimed January 2023 as “National Human Trafficking Prevention Month,” reaffirming his Administration’s commitment to protect and empower survivors of all forms of human trafficking, to prosecute traffickers and to bring an end to human trafficking in the United States and around the world. “Since human trafficking disproportionately impacts racial and ethnic minorities, women and girls, LGBTQI+ individuals, vulnerable migrants, and other historically marginalized and underserved communities, our mission to combat human trafficking must always be connected to our broader efforts to advance equity and justice across our society.”
Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, includes both forced labor and sex trafficking. It not only represents a threat to international peace and security but also undermines the rule of law, robs millions of their dignity and freedom, enriches transnational criminals and terrorists, and threatens public safety and national security everywhere.
There are an estimated to be more than 27.6 million people – adults and children – subjected to human trafficking around the world, including the United States. Traffickers often take advantage of instability caused by natural disasters, conflict, or a pandemic to exploit others. During the COVID-19 pandemic, traffickers are continuing to perpetrate the crime, finding ways to innovate and capitalize on the chaos.
Despite the nearly worldwide adoption of international and domestic norms to address and prevent human trafficking, we continue to witness traffickers exploit people in the United States and around the world. But, everyone has the power to make a difference. Every Presidential proclamation for January ends with a call to action for all Americans to recognize the vital role everyone can play in combating all forms of human trafficking. To learn more please click here
To learn more about the Missionary Sisters’ Corporate Stance against Human Trafficking, please click here
~ by Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The Texas Catholic bishops urged immigration reform, saying it is necessary to prevent what happened to 53 migrants discovered in a trailer on June 27 from happening again.
Reminding others to reflect on the incident, they focused on defending the sacredness of every life.
Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston recalled Pope Francis’ lament, the “throwaway culture” the pope warns against, which leads humanity to discard God’s creation, including people.
“This senseless loss of life should shock and sadden us as we are all brothers and sisters in Christ,” said Cardinal Di Nardo. “We cannot ignore those most vulnerable among us who at times become victims of this throwaway culture and only seek a better life for themselves and their families.”
He commended the souls of the men and women who died near San Antonio after being smuggled into the U.S. in the part of a semitrailer reserved for cargo, not people. They were traveling without air-conditioning or ventilation in temperatures that surpassed 100 degrees. It was not clear how long they had been inside the trailer.
Authorities said the man identified as the truck driver, Homero Zamorano, Jr., fled the scene, leaving the migrants, which included migrants, dead and dying. He has been apprehended and charged with alien smuggling resulting in death. Three others also have been arrested in connection with the incident.’’
“The exploitation of the poor and in particular of migrants who flee dramatic situations in search of opportunities and hope is particularly grave,” said Archbishop Garcia-Siller of San Antonio.
Bishop Olson of Fort Worth said “our nation’s past unwillingness to address immigration…has brough us to a grace moment of polarization and crisis that threatens the vulnerable.
“The light of our faith should prompt us to care and to address the causes of these injustices as Christians, as Americans and as men and women of goodwill,” he added
Human trafficking occurs in every country in the world and the war in Ukraine is not just a battleground – it is a hunting ground for human traffickers. The uprooting of many people and the creation of refugees make a war zone ideal for recruitment into slavery.
According to Michael O’Neill, former Chair of the International NGO Safety and Security Association, “The predators are well-organized, well-resourced, and relentless.” Defeating the traffickers, or at least slowing them down, depends on educating the refugees. Too often refugees have no idea of the dangers they face from traffickers while at the same time being exceptionally vulnerable to them.
Here’s what too often happens: A young woman fleeing Ukraine may be weighed down with multiple fears, including that she: Doesn’t have a place to stay; doesn’t speak the language; is afraid for her husband’s life; is separated from her family and what was once her support system; has lost all her material possessions. Additionally, she’s exhausted from a 22-hour trip. She is now the perfect target for a seemingly kindly stranger who offers her a hot meal and a place to stay. Unfortunately, that “kindly” stranger may whisk her away to another country where she may disappear forever into the sex trade.
Also, members of trafficking rings target relief organizations. They know that if they manage to be accepted as a volunteer, they’ll have inside information on who is vulnerable and how to get to them.
Sex trafficking is not a new phenomenon in Ukraine, a country long-known as a hub for transnational organized crime syndicates involved in all manner of black-market illicit activity.
“But it has exploded since Russia invaded” in February, according to Mariya Dmytriyeva, a Kyiv-based women’s rights advocate for the Democracy Development Center, an NGO that works on the development of civil society and state of law in Ukraine.
Dmytriyeva said the many criminal mafias in and around Ukraine flock to sex trafficking because of the lax attitude toward it among authorities. The pimps, hustlers and crime syndicates responsible for it are rarely arrested and almost never prosecuted. And there are far more lenient penalties for those who are than for drug trafficking and other serious crimes.
“We know that organized crime is using this because it is much easier to sell a girl than to sell a bunch of cocaine,” she said. “And there is this famous saying here that you can sell a kilo of cocaine only one time, but you can sell a 12-year-old girl until she dies.”
In the nearly three months since Russia’s invasion, the signs of sex trafficking have been everywhere, officials and experts report.
In Ukraine itself, hundreds of women and girls have reported experiencing sexual violence, including rape, to the country’s officials who work for human rights.
Russian soldiers – and even some opportunistic taxi drivers – are suspected of facilitating the trafficking of women and girls or forcing them to flee into Russia where they fall prey to organized crime syndicates who exploit them, according to other advocates on the ground.
In neighboring countries Poland, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary, where most Ukrainians initially landed, reports of suspected trafficking have spiked. An unknown number of the more than two million who have made it to points beyond also have been victimized, according to recent reports by the United Nations, the OSCE and numerous advocacy and humanitarian groups.
To help address the issue, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Ukraine, has scaled up the work of the National Migrant Advice and Counter-Trafficking Hotline 527, by extending opening hours, doubling the number of advisers and offering reliable and updated information on a wide range of topics. The hotline, which can be accessed from within Ukraine, has already provided over 12,000 consultations to over 2,400 callers received from 24 February to 16 March only, which is 60 percent more compared to the same period last year. More than half of the people calling are newly displaced persons. The hotline provides verified information on rights and obligations related to the current procedures of border crossing, services within Ukraine and neighboring countries, work of border-crossing points, safe travel and countering human trafficking.
The IOM-supported National Migrant Advice and Counter-Trafficking Hotline can be reached in Ukraine at 527 (free from mobile phones) or at 0 800 505 501 (free from landline phones) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Those staying abroad can reach hotline consultants at email@example.com.
Exploiting the turmoil
La Strada International, a consortium of dozens of advocacy groups, research, conducted over the past two months, found that unaccompanied children, undocumented people and those who might not have access to the temporary protection offered in European Union countries face the greatest danger.
“And the dangers will grow as the war continues, with more people becoming displaced within Ukraine, making access to services and livelihoods increasingly precarious, while millions of refugees will need to settle for longer periods in other European countries and start accessing the labor market,” the La Strada report said. ~ submitted by Karol Brewer, Guadalupe Province Action and Advocacy Coalition
~ Elisabeth Auvillain for Global Sisters Report (GSR)
Sr. Imelda Poole has been fighting human trafficking for years and now is increasingly worried about the situation in Ukraine.
“There has been an explosion of child trafficking in the world in recent years because of increasing poverty,” she told GSR. “And now, the risks are enormous in Ukraine because war situations make it easier for international and local gangs to find prey.”
Poole is a member of the Loreto Sisters and President of Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation (RENATE), a non-governmental organization that combats human trafficking in 31 European countries.
Millions of Ukrainians have left their homes, fleeing bombings and destruction. After a month of fighting, about 3 million of them have crossed the borders, mostly into Poland. About as many have been displaced within their country, going west where the fighting has been less intense. Thousands are waiting in underground shelters, hoping for a ride to safety as soon as possible.
“The situation is dire in shelters. Food is scarce. Hygiene is very bad. Such chaos is welcomed by gangs of traffickers, who prey on the most vulnerable: isolated children or young people,” said Poole.
It did not take long for gangs, local as well as international, to mingle in the crowd and offer false promises of help. Traffickers know refugees are desperate to go to a safer place. They are quick to offer a ride over the border to people who are desperate to leave. This is where the danger lies.
Soon after the war broke out, humanitarian aid agencies started to distribute leaflets to refugees gathered in shelters to warn them of human trafficking. The paper tells refugees what to do before agreeing to a ride to the border with Poland or Romania, the two main countries where Ukrainians seek refuge, along with Hungary and
“Never hand out your passport to someone who promises you a ride. Take a picture of the license plate of the van you get on and tell someone that you are going in it and where you are going” are some of the tips printed on the leaflets. If offered accommodations, make sure to tell someone you know, where you are. Aid workers also watch out for people acting in a suspicious manner and report them to the police.
“Drug trafficking doesn’t bring as much money as it used to. Arms trafficking is also not so lucrative anymore, so traffickers are now focusing on human trafficking,” said Sr. Poole.
“Children are bought online,” she added, “they become sex slaves or are forced to work for free.”
“The world is demanding cheap labor, cheap sex. Traffickers know that wars give them opportunities. Their only aim is greed; they have absolutely no ethics. And criminals often get away with it,” she said.
Caritas Internationalis and other humanitarian groups present in Ukraine have joined forces to help refugees. The situation in Ukraine is chaotic, and UNICEF, the United Nations Children Fund, is also warning about people eager to help, saying that rules have to be followed to protect children.
“There is real chaos in humanitarian refugee centers with volunteers who are not under the auspices of any qualified agency. They just wear a badge and a yellow vest and they are seen as volunteers. This is irresponsible,” said Alice Barbe, a spokeswoman for Corridor Citoyen, to ensure safe passage to France. To read the complete account please click here To access the MSC Corporate Stance and information on Trafficking please click here and here
~ by Christopher White, Global Sisters Report
Pope Francis has said that human trafficking is a modern form of human slavery, and he has been critical of governments, business leaders, and those in civil society who turn a blind eye to it.
Now, Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz is hoping his new sculpture will help put a spotlight on an issue he believes too many individuals and governments would prefer to look away from. And on Sunday, February 6, the pope offered his blessing – both to the sculpture and to the religious sisters on the front lines leading the fight against human trafficking.
The design for the sculpture is inspired, in part, by the work of the 19th- century Canossian religious sister, now Saint Josephine Bakhita, who hailed from the Darfur region of Sudan and was kidnapped by traffickers at age 9. Upon becoming free, she entered religious life and committed herself to caring for the poor and destitute. She is the patron saint of human trafficking victims and survivors.
The bronze statue design – which will eventually have permanent homes in both Rome and the United States – depicts Bakhita opening up the gates of the underworld and allowing those enslaved by trafficking to be set free. More than 50 individuals represent a range of trafficking victims – including a child bride, young beggars, an individual trafficking for their organs, both men and women enslaved in prostitution.
Schmalz told Global Sisters Report he hopes the sculpture, titled, “Let the Oppressed Go Free,” will become a “weapon of awareness.”
“Thank you for your courage,” the pope said to the religious sisters present with a 10-foot bronze model of the statue in St. Peter’s Square during his remarks after the Sunday Angelus.
The Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita on the 8th of February each year, her life was a journey from slavery to freedom and faith. The patron saint of Sudan, her life story inspires hope in the face of modern day indifference and exploitation.
As Pope Francis states: “She is charged with showing to all the path to conversion, which enables us to change the way we see our neighbors, to recognize in every other person a brother or sister in our human family and to acknowledge his or her intrinsic dignity in truth and freedom. This saint, who lived at the turn of the twentieth century, is even today an exemplary witness of hope for the many victims of slavery; she can support the efforts of all those committed to fighting against this ‘open wound on the body of contemporary society.’” Pope Francis on the Celebration of the World Day of Peace 2015
Saint Josephine Margaret Bakhita was born around 1869 in the Darfur region of Sudan. She was a member of the Daju people and her uncle was a tribal chief. Due to her family lineage, she grew up happy and relatively prosperous, saying that as a child, she did not know suffering.
Historians believe that sometime in February 1877, Josephine was kidnapped by Arab slave traders. Although she was just a child she was forced to walk barefoot over 600 miles to a slave market. She was bought and sold at least twice during the grueling journey.
For the next 12 years she would be bought and sold and given away over a dozen times. She spent so much time in captivity that she forgot her original name.
As a slave, her treatment was cruel with several owners. She was sold to the Italian Vice Consul, Callisto Legani. He was kind to her. When it was time for him to return to Italy, she begged to be taken with him and he agreed.
After a long journey back to Italy, Legani gave her away to another family as a gift and she served them as a nanny. This new family had dealings in Sudan and when her mistress decided to travel to Sudan without Josephine, she place her in the custody of the Canossian Sisters in Venice. While with the Sisters she came to know about God.
When the mistress returned from Sudan, Josephine refused to leave the Sisters. This caused the Superior of the Institute for baptismal candidates among the sisters to complain to Italian authorities on Josephine’s behalf.
The case went to court, and the court found that slavery had been outlawed in Sudan before Josephine was born, so she could not be lawfully made a slave. She was declared free.
For the first time in her life, Josephine was free and could choose her own path. She chose to remain with the Canossian Sisters.
She was baptized in 1890 and three years later became a novice with the Canossian Daughters of Charity and took her final vows in 1896. For the next 42 years, she worked as a cook and doorkeeper at the convent. She was known for her gentle voice and smile.
She died on February 8, 1947. She was canonized by Saint Pope John Paul II on October 1, 2000. She is the patron saint of Sudan.
To read the full account, please click here
The International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking
This Day of Prayer is held on February 8th each year. In addition to prayer, the day is a call to action:
“Our awareness must expand and extend to the very depths of this evil and its farthest reaches…from awareness to prayer…from prayer to solidarity…and from solidarity to concerted action, until slavery and trafficking are no more,” says Cardinal Peter Turkson.
In this sense another goal of the day is to encourage people to act and to take concrete steps to help eradicate slavery and trafficking. Indeed, an essential part of freedom is our ongoing effort to ensure it is woven into the fabric of our society.
To access resources for the International Day of Prayer, please click here
To access the Corporate Stance of the Missionary Sisters, please click here
Cabrini High School, New Orleans, took the week of January 10-14 to highlight National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. In solidarity with Mother Cabrini’s Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, each day began with prayers for an end to this sinful tragedy. Facts about human trafficking and how we can advocate and fight against it were highlighted daily. The week culminated in a dress-up day, where students raised funds for the anti-trafficking efforts of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and the Cabrini Mission Foundation.
~ by Gail DeGeorge, Global Sisters Report
The fight against human trafficking continues, 15 years after the United States designated January 11 as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in 2007, and January as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month in 2010.
Catholic sisters around the world are deeply committed to ending the scourge of modern-day slavery. Through regional organizations, such as the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking and Rome-based Talitha Kum, initiated by the International Union of Superiors General as a “network of networks” active in five continents coordinating efforts of congregations in 60 or more networks, sisters work to raise awareness, aid and rehabilitate victims, and lobby for stricter laws and enforcement.
The Global Sisters Report (GRS) reflects these efforts in their coverage of sisters’ ministries and work related to human trafficking. They also take opportunities to help raise awareness through other venues. The GSR in the Classroom curriculum, for instance, offers six lessons about human trafficking. GSR correspondent Soli Salgado, who has reported extensively about human trafficking, produced a special video presentation for the annual California Ministry Conference Hope, Heal, Renew, sponsored by eight dioceses and archdioceses from California, Nevada and Hawaii. The 2021 conference was a virtual gathering held November. 4-6.
The hourlong segment, entitled, “Migrating Toward Exploitation: Why Migrants Are Susceptible to Human Trafficking, and How Sisters Are Helping,” featured an explanatory introduction, plus interviews with Sr. Sally Duffy, a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati who is involved with migration and trafficking issues, and Jennifer Reyes Lay, executive director of U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.
There are also other official days to commemorate trafficking victims and efforts to raise awareness and stop human trafficking. February 8 is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was born in Sudan and sold into slavery and taken to Italy where she eventually joined the Canossian Sisters. February 8 is a World Day of Prayer, Reflection, and Action against Human Trafficking, designated by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General. The theme for this year’s day of prayer is “The Power of Care – Women, Economics, Human Trafficking.”
In addition, the United Nations observes the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30.
While much of the attention of anti-trafficking is on women and children who are trafficked and abused, there is also growing attention to the labor trafficking and workers who are exploited.
There can never be enough attention to the issue of human trafficking, or the efforts by Catholic sisters and others to help women, children and vulnerable adults avoid becoming victims of trafficking, or assisting those who are already caught in the trap. So, this day, this month, February 8th and every day take time to pray and add your efforts to the cause to stop human trafficking.
To read the complete article, please click here
The Missionary Sisters of the Guadalupe Province have a Corporate Stance on Human Trafficking.
To learn more please click here and here to download a PDF of the Corporate Stance brochure.
On Monday, November 15, not even the cold, blustery weather could dampen the Cabrini spirit. Students from Cabrini University’s ECG 200, Voices for the Voiceless class, spoke during a walk throughout campus where a number of “stations” were designated that focused on different topics around human trafficking. Many sports teams’ members and their coaches attended, as well as, other students, staff and friends from the University. Many of these students will engage with human trafficking victims through their future careers and may be the first contact victims have. They will know the signs to recognize victims and know what to do about it. Our students have pledged to continue raising awareness and educate everyone they can to be part of ending human trafficking.
~Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition and ECG 200 Voice for Voiceless-Anti-Human Trafficking Class