Chains. People locked “together with the weight of an ox-chain in the beating sun forced to walk the distance to damnation” to the slave market. That’s a description from Isabel Wilkerson’s book Caste, about enslaved people and a type of caste system in the 19th-20th century United States.
Chains. Twenty-first century, women and children bound and walking to another market, not so public but equally damning. The market of human trafficking is silent and difficult to see without a perceptive eye.
On April 18, the League of Women Voters of Litchfield County, Connecticut, and the Litchfield Historical Society presented a zoom lecture on human trafficking. It was given by Alicia Kinsman, a senior staff attorney with the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants and a staff attorney for Project Rescue, the institute’s anti-human-trafficking program.
On May 1, a workshop on how to recognize human trafficking and what the public can do was given at the Wisdom House Retreat and Conference Center in Litchfield. It was co-sponsored by the Susan B. Anthony Project of Torrington, Connecticut, and the Litchfield County League of Women Voters. The program, using stories, statistics and videos, was eye-opening.
How did these two programs come about? It all started with the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita in February 2021. Congregations of religious sisters around the world were raising awareness of Human Trafficking and asking for prayers for the end of this tragedy.
I was also reading Pope Francis’ book Let Us Dream, where he encourages us to “see, judge, act,” which, in his words, are “contemplate, discern, propose.” I started looking for places where prayers were being complemented with action.
An informal conversation with a local friend led me to the human trafficking workshop of the Susan B. Anthony Project. Another conversation with Lynn Campbell, executive director of the Hartford Archdiocese’s Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry led me to Amirah.
I contacted Amirah, an interfaith nonprofit organization that provides “refuge to those seeking to break free from exploitation and heal in community on their journey toward lasting hope.” In this agency, I found what I was looking for, namely, an action to support trafficked persons. Amirah provides aftercare for women who have survived sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. Amirah’s safe homes for long-term recovery are in Massachusetts and Connecticut.Global Sisters Report