How I wish that all of us would hear God’s cry: ‘Where is your brother?’ (Gen. 4:9). 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.
– Pope Francis, Evangelli Gaudium
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Human Slavery and Trafficking is a global problem that demands our attention and our action. In 2016, the Global Slavery Index estimated that 45.8 million people were subjected to some form of modern slavery, and that number is rising each day. There are more than 5.5 million children trafficked worldwide. The U.S. Department of State shared that many of these persons are trafficked into the international sex trade, often by force, fraud, or coercion. Yet this crime also includes forced labor and involves significant violations of labor and human rights worldwide.
Human Slavery and Trafficking is a $150 billion industry and the world’s third most profitable organized crime, following the drugs and weapons trade. It is the fastest growing criminal enterprise and makes more money than Google, Starbucks, Nike, and the NFL combined. Human Slavery and Trafficking has been reported on all continents and in all fifty of the United States. It is time we give this matter our intentional and meaningful action so that we can put an end to it.
What We Can Do
Educate Ourselves and Others About Human Slavery and Trafficking: The more we learn about this issue, the more we will be able to understand what needs to change and what we can do to stop it. Here are some websites that we found helpful:
- Slave Free Trade
- Fair Trade Winds
- Catholic Relief Services
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Toolkit
- Global Slavery Index
- Slavery Footprint
Take Action: Our hearts are deeply wounded and moved after researching human slavery and trafficking. As January is Human Slavery and Trafficking Awareness month, it is the perfect opportunity for us to take action. Even the smallest act helps, like making a purchase from a fair trade shop. Or consider writing a letter to the editor, or contacting our local, state, and federal lawmakers. We researched different businesses, companies, and institutions that have heroically committed themselves to helping the most vulnerable. Here are some ideas on how you can get involved:
- Host an anti-trafficking sale by selling fair trade products. Fair Trade Winds has some wonderful resources to help you get started!
- Purchase a “Turn On The Light” candle from Catholic Relief Services (CRS). CRS is working to eradicate human trafficking with 145 projects worldwide. With every purchase of this candle a donation is made to support CRS anti-trafficking programs.
- Urge Congress to combat human trafficking: HERE, HERE, and HERE.
- Make a donation to the Catholic Fund Against Human Trafficking or Slave Free Trade.
- Volunteer to rescue children from sex trafficking with Operation Underground Railroad.
- Read these fifteen ways you can help fight human trafficking by the U.S. Department of State.
- Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
O Lord, you said you came: “to set the captives free.”
In our world young men and women who are trafficked are modern day slaves.
Help these young people not to lose hope.
Give the grace for elected officials to grow in awareness of and to take active steps to eradicate this horror.
Teach them not to prosecute the victims of trafficking but to bring to justice those who perpetrate this crime.
May many join the efforts to stop trafficking and help the victims begin anew, filled with hope.
We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen. Prayer composed by Sr. Veronica Piccone, MSC.