Categories for US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking
May 8, 2023
(OSV News) — Just over 10 years ago, Sister Margaret Nacke — a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas — was living in Belleville, a Kansas town known as “the crossroads of America,” where U.S. Highways 36 and 81 intersect.
On a December day in 2012, she was pondering a particular question.
“I said to myself, ‘What are religious sisters doing across the country to stop human trafficking?’” Sister Nacke told OSV News. “So I picked up the phone and called the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.”
Sister Nacke told Sister Ann Scholz, a School Sister of Notre Dame and associate director for social mission at LCWR, that she wanted to establish a collaborative data bank through which sisters could pool their knowledge on trafficking. Sister Scholz, she said, promised to raise the idea at the LCWR’s upcoming meeting and to alert the organization’s point persons for justice and peace initiatives.
“I started hearing from sisters all over,” said Sister Nacke.
LCWR represents the majority of the almost 39,000 women religious in the U.S.
In April 2013, several Catholic sisters were invited by the Obama administration to attend the release of its policy priorities, which included addressing an epidemic of human trafficking in the U.S.
Today, U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT), as the coalition came to be known, counts more than 115 congregations of women religious, individual members, faith-based coalitions and secular organizations.
The Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Human Trafficking Force of the Diocese of Orlando, Florida, and the Catholic Health Association are among the members of USCSAHT, which in turn is part of Talitha Kum, an international umbrella organization of anti-trafficking efforts by women religious, based in Rome and named for Christ’s words in Aramaic (“Little girl, arise”) at the raising of Jairus’ daughter (Mk 5:41).
USCSAHT has created a robust website featuring an array of resources for advocates and survivors, and since 2003 has published the monthly “Stop Trafficking” newsletter, launched by Salvatorian Sister Jean Schafer and currently edited by Felician Sister Maryann Mueller.
Read the full article by Gina Christian on OSV News.
March 26, 2023
Students around the United States will have a chance to display their talent, earn cash prizes and educate other youth about human trafficking in a video contest, “What Would You Do?”
U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking is sponsoring the contest to raise awareness, educate and empower students on how to identify and prevent human trafficking. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children saw a 98 percent increase in online exploitation in 2020. Online enticement reports that 78 percent of reported victims were female, 13 percent male and in nine percent of reports gender could not be determined.
An estimated 300,000 children are at risk of being trafficked in the U.S. USCAHT hopes to prevent these children from falling prey to predators and plans to have other teens empower and educate other youth by delivering that message themselves.
The deadline for submission is March 30. The video can be created by a group, individual or class and must be under three minutes in length. No video production experience is necessary to enter. Cash prizes include $1,000 for first prize, $750 for second place and $500 for third place.
A panel of judges will review video submissions and vote on the winners. Videos may not include graphic material or foul language and contain the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888.
For more information or to register for the contest, visit sistersagainsttraffickingfilmfest.com or email Theresa Flores at Theresa@SistersAgainstTrafficking.org.
March 21, 2023
Sr. Margaret Nacke of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas, is one the individuals and organizations that The SOAP Project will honor with Liberator Awards on March 25 for their anti-trafficking work.
Nacke will receive the group’s 2023 Radical Abolitionist Award for her work over the past 11 years. Nacke chairs the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking‘s Survivor Services Working Group, and her Liberator Awards blurb notes that she “has been instrumental in creating programs that advance education about trafficking.”
SOAP — Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution — was founded by U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking’s program director, Theresa Flores, who is an author, advocate and survivor of human trafficking. The group has distributed more than 2 million bars of soap with the national human trafficking hotline number to thousands of hotels around the country.
Read the full story on Global Sisters Report.
February 19, 2023
It began with a request from the Sisters of St. Joseph Federation, who wanted to ensure their 2008 national gathering was at a hotel that worked to stop human trafficking.
Kimberly Ritter, senior account manager at Nix Conference & Meeting Management, laughed at the idea. “I said, ‘Well, we’re not in India, Sister.’ ”
But the sister explained that human trafficking happens everywhere, even in the United States, and at rates that would shock most people: The U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline reports 10,360 cases of identified trafficking in 2021 involving nearly 17,000 victims.
“Then we researched the details and found that the average age of entry into sex trafficking is 12 to 13, and [Nix owner] Molly Hackett and I both had daughters that age. We couldn’t believe it,” Ritter said. “And it’s happening in hotels, where we spend millions of the sisters’ money. We knew we had to do something.”
So the St. Louis-based Nix worked with the hotel hosting the Sisters of St. Joseph Federation to sign ECPAT-USA’s Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism, a voluntary set of business principles that travel and tour companies can implement to prevent sexual exploitation and trafficking of children.
Nix employees then wondered why they should stop with just one hotel, since they have the buying power to demand every hotel they contract with sign the code of conduct. In 2012, Nix became the first non-hotel company to adopt the code.
At the time, Backpage.com was notorious for running advertisements selling sex, and many ads featured women and girls who had been trafficked. Nix employees, who see hundreds of hotels every year, found they could identify the locations of those women and girls based on the pictures that Backpage.com posted with these ads. But when there were photos of hotels they didn’t recognize, “we realized an office of meeting planners wasn’t enough,” Ritter said.
Read the full story by Dan Stockman on Global Sisters Report.
November 4, 2022
ST. LOUIS, MO – U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking hosted its Second Annual Human Trafficking Conference with nationally renowned speakers and survivor leaders, who shed light on many of the dark issues surrounding the exploitation of individuals Oct. 26-28 in St. Louis, MO.
This year’s conference theme, “Weaving Community, Building Capacity, Affecting Change,” featured speakers from national organizations dedicated for their efforts to address human trafficking. They included Lina Nealon from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, Dr. Mandy Sanchez, World Without Exploitation, and Russ Tuttle from the STOP Trafficking Program.
“The annual USCSAHT conference afforded members and guests an opportunity to reconnect with friends and colleagues, to share ideas, to exchange information, and to learn more about human trafficking,” said Executive Director Katie Boller Gosewisch.
This year’s conference featured talks and breakout sessions including: the Demand for Sex and Labor Trafficking, LGBTQ+ and Human Trafficking, Men’s Role in Trafficking, Ethical Representation in Working with Survivors, Pornography and Trafficking, Advocacy 101, Cybersafety, Familial Trafficking, The Consumer’s Role in Trafficking, Trauma Informed Care, Migrants/Refugees and Trafficking, Direct Support Services, the Equality Model and more.
Attendees had the option to attend the conference in-person or on-demand via video recordings following the conference, which was held at the Sheraton Westport Chalet, St. Louis.
USCSAHT was founded in 2013 by a group of Catholic Sisters committed to ending human trafficking and supporting survivors. They dreamed of creating a national network of resources and support made up of many different congregations and other mission-aligned partners. Today, this member-based organization has grown to include more than 110 congregations of women religious and another 70+ individuals and groups spread throughout the United States. USCSAHT is also the U.S. member of Talitha Kum, an international network of consecrated life working to end human trafficking.
Keynote Speakers and Presenters included: Dr. Mandy Sanchez (World Without Exploitation), Lina Nealon (National Center on Sexual Exploitation), Terry Coonan (Florida State University), Russ Tuttle (STOP Trafficking Program), Sr. Anne Victory (HM), Peter Quillotine, Theresa Flores, Dr. Kim Hogan (The University of Southern Mississippi State), HEAL Trafficking, Alicia Cohen, Survivors of Human Trafficking and more.
Download a PDF of this press release
October 18, 2022
July 14, 2022
Brighton, MI – The ECPAT-USA Awards were held recently in New York City to celebrate individuals who work to combat child trafficking.
Theresa Flores, Program Director for the United States Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, was recognized for her work in preventing sex trafficking and the exploitation of children.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by ECPAT USA for the mission that God put before me 15 years ago,” she said. “This journey has been heart-wrenching, mind-opening, brought me to my knees in tears, and also opened my heart to the huge amount of support and happiness I have received in turn. Receiving the “Freedom Award” is humbling because it wasn’t just me who did this work, but also motivating because we need a lot more people doing this work to end human trafficking.”
In addition to being the Program Director for U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, Flores is the founder of the SOAP Project – Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution, a non-profit that mobilizes citizens to help locate missing youth who are being trafficked during major sporting events and assists survivors of trafficking on their healing journey.
She has been a licensed social worker for more than 30 years, was appointed to the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Commission in 2009, and has testified before both the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate in support of Human Trafficking Legislation. Additionally, the “Theresa Flores Law,” which eliminates the statute of limitation for children who have been trafficked, was passed in Michigan in 2015.
Flores is a survivor of domestic child sex trafficking and was sold in an underground crime ring in an upper-middle-class suburb outside Detroit from the time she was 15-17 years old. She has researched the mental and physical health problems of more than 200 domestic trafficking survivors and has hosted more than 200 women at survivor retreats.
She has received many awards including the 2017 L’Oréal Women of Worth, the University of Dayton’s Alumni Association, the 2013 Christian Service Award & the 2020 Polaris Star Award. In January 2012 at the Ohio State of the State Address, Flores received the Courage Award from the governor for her work in human trafficking.
Flores also has published five books including, “The Sacred Bath,” “The Slave Across the Street” (in the UK and U.S.), and “Slavery in the Land of the Free – A Student’s Guide to Modern-Day Slavery.” You only list three books, so I added the including. The 10-year anniversary edition depicts the trauma of trafficking upon a person and the struggle it takes to heal. The audio version of her memoir—name– was nominated for the 2011 Audie Award, being in the top five of all memoirs and biographies, and has been on the Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Seller list for e-books several times. In addition, she also conducted the TED Talk, “Find a Voice with SOAP.”
USCSAHT was founded in 2013 by a group of Catholic Sisters who were committed to ending human trafficking and supporting survivors and dreamed of creating a national network of resources and support made up of many different congregations and other mission-aligned partners. Today, this member-based organization has grown to include more than 110 congregations of women religious and another 70+ individuals and groups spread throughout the United States. USCSAHT is also the U.S. member of Talitha Kum, an international network of consecrated life working to end human trafficking.
Download a PDF of this Press Release
May 17, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 17, 2022
Katie Boller Gosewisch (Executive Director)
U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking
Katie@SistersAgainstTrafficking.org | 267-332-7768
U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking Hires New Executive Director
ST. LOUIS: U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT) is pleased to welcome to the team our new Executive Director, Katie Boller Gosewisch. Ms. Boller Gosewisch begins her tenure with USCSAHT May 17, 2022 and will be the second Executive Director of the organization. USCSAHT was founded in 2013 by a group of Catholic Sisters who were committed to ending human trafficking and supporting survivors and dreamed of creating a national network of resources and support made up of many different congregations and other mission-aligned partners. Today this member-based organization has grown to include over 110 congregations of women religious and another 70+ individuals and groups spread throughout the United States. USCSAHT is also the U.S. member of Talitha Kum, an international network of consecrated life working to end human trafficking.
Katie Boller Gosewisch will be joining USCSAHT as the organization continues to grow and diversify, increasing its impact in the larger struggle to end human trafficking and support survivors on their healing journey. She believes strongly in USCSAHT’s vision of a world without trafficking and exploitation and uplifting the dignity of every human being. Katie shared, “I am tremendously honored to be chosen to lead USCSAHT as we work to realize a world in which trafficking is eradicated and the innate dignity of the human person is recognized and upheld.”
Katie brings great skill and experience to this role having served as the Executive Director for two Minnesota-based nonprofits: Living at Home Network and WeCab, both of which focused on serving vulnerable populations with important access to resources like transportation, safe and affordable housing, and medical care. She is a committed and vision-driven professional with more than 20 years of experience providing program management, educational, and fiscal leadership within the nonprofit environment; with a focus on advocacy, training, community engagement, grant writing, special events, and staff and volunteer coordination.
Katie is also well educated in the values and teachings of the Catholic Church, which inspire her to work for justice in the world. She holds a Master of Arts in Systematic Theology from St. John’s University and a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and History from St. Mary’s University. She has also previously worked as a youth minister and religious educator.
“The Board of Directors is pleased to welcome Katie to USCSAHT and we look forward to working together with her,” said Sister Ann Oestreich, IHM, President of the Board. “Katie has the necessary skills, experience, and passion to lead us into a mission-centered future in our priority areas of education, advocacy, and survivor support.”
Download a PDF of this press release
May 15, 2022
During the past several years, the work of the coalition was affected by Covid-19. We have been unable to visit businesses with anti-human trafficking posters, to gather volunteers for education or activities, or to give presentations to parish groups. We did, however, become more proficient in Zoom meetings and continued our monthly gatherings at which we discussed online activities and legislative advocacy, welcomed guest speakers, and shared ideas from counties and local groups in which individual coalition members participate.
One of the yearly projects of the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking (SFCAHT) is a teen contest in which students submit depictions of human trafficking according to a given theme in poster, essay and musical form. As a result of this contest, teens study and learn about human trafficking and become aware of its dangers and how to recognize it. For several years, the coalition has assisted with this project by providing information and materials about these contests to Catholic high schools in the Bay Area.
The theme for the 2022 contest was “Shine Light on the Darkness.” One of the winning posters, among the many amazing contributions, is:
The San Joaquin County Human Trafficking Task Force hopes to inspire teens in their county to study human trafficking and to submit their entries next year for the End It Summit that takes place annually on January 11, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
WORK CONTINUES ON SB 1193
As our state opens up more, our work continues on updating and placing notices about human trafficking in businesses that are required by law to post the information.
Sister John Paul Chao, smsm, worked for months to update the poster and the letter from the Alameda County D.A.’s office. She is pictured here with the Assistant D.A. in charge of human trafficking, Sharmin Bock, and the H.E.A.T. Watch (Human Exploitation and Trafficking) Coordinator, Fiona Bock, who gave her hundreds of copies of the new poster and letter. With these in hand, Sister John Paul and her faithful volunteers are once again on the road visiting bars, massage parlors, hotels, and 10 other business establishments.
A FOND FAREWELL
Sister Marie Jeanne Gaillac, CSJ, worked tirelessly in numerous Coalition projects since the beginning of the Coalition in 2006.
In more recent years, she was very instrumental in helping to establish the Interfaith Subcommittee of the SF Collaborative Against Human Trafficking. At their annual award ceremony this year, Sister Marie was recognized for her tireless work: “Age is easy to measure. Passion is not. Sister Marie has shown us that a passion for human trafficking victims has no age limits. In 2006 at the age of 76, Sister Marie became one of the founding members of the Northern California Catholic Sisters against Human Trafficking. For 16 years, she was a dedicated, tireless and very active member.”
In April, at the age of 92, Sister Marie moved to the retirement center of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Orange County. You will be sorely missed by all, Sister Marie. We wish you all the best in your new home!
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD
The Senate has introduced a critical bi-partisan anti-trafficking bill – The Abolish Trafficking Reauthorization Act of 2022 (S. 3946) will reauthorize The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2017. For over 20 years, the TVPA has helped protect vulnerable children and provide services for survivors of exploitation. Among other things, this new bill would reform current standards for child sex crime victims who were forced into the criminal justice system. Call your senators today and ask them to vote to reauthorize this bill. The U.S. Capitol switchboard number is: Capitol switchboard number is: (202) 224-3121.
Read or download a PDF of the full Stop Slavery May newsletter.
May 13, 2022
I’m old enough to remember the beginnings of Network
. I was in graduate school, going on peace marches and wearing “Boycott grapes” buttons. I was not directly involved with Network, but many of our sisters were in this new social justice advocacy group, and, being a bleeding-heart liberal from birth, I was really proud of them. And at the April 22 gala celebrating the group’s 50th anniversary in Washington, D.C., it was my honor to sit with four of the pioneers. I had come with one of them, my housemate, Ursuline Sr. Angela Fitzpatrick.
I hovered around the edges of Network for years, writing letters, signing petitions, and actually visiting the Network office when our U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking group went to Washington to lobby our congressional representatives. (Network let us leave our luggage in their offices while we went to the Capitol.)
I finally jumped into the deep end and went on the 2018 tax justice tour with the Nuns on the Bus in spite of the fact I knew nothing about taxes —if you get involved with Network, you learn fast! — the 2020 virtual tour, and lots of good webinars in between.
But I was bowled over by what I saw and felt and experienced April 21-23 at the big 50th anniversary celebration, which included training for advocates and the gala.
Picturing the Network sisters I had known over the years (many white and, at this stage, mostly gray-haired), I was blown away by the explosion of diversity and youthful energy at the meeting. Oh, yes, there were a few of us old-timers, but there were young sisters and men and women of all ages and ethnicities/nationalities: associates, young staffers, college students, activists of all sorts, and, of course, our young sister-columnists for Global Sisters Report. One of my favorites was a young adult from India with a pink pageboy mop of hair.
I met old friends from past days in academia, from United Nations nongovernmental organizations, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and from religious leadership days.
Read the full story by Michele Morek on Global Sisters Report.