March 19, 2020
Proposed Georgia legislation aimed at cracking down on modern slavery comes during a month when human trafficking is top-of-mind for many. Throughout January, awareness campaigns throughout the U.S. are alerting local communities to National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, an occasion that directs our attention to a problem that’s massive, pervasive — and far too often overlooked.
According to the International Labor Organization, there are approximately 40.3 million victims of human trafficking, or modern slavery, worldwide — including about 400,000 right here in the U.S.
This issue has become so widespread because its perpetrators exploit forced labor in a wide variety of industries. They also use a growing number of illicit tactics to execute and conceal their actions when necessary, facilitated in part by a collective lack of awareness and visibility into how specific legal, profit-seeking behaviors can help to enable exploitation. One need only examine recent news stories to observe the many forms this problem takes.
In November, police found 39 suspected victims of human trafficking in the back of a truck in England, having suffocated during an arduous journey from their home country of Vietnam. In December, a woman in Oregon sued six major hotel chains, alleging that they allowed her to be trafficked and abused on their properties.
Less than a week later, two Silicon Valley giants were named in a lawsuit over Congolese child cobalt mining deaths. And none of these stories touch on the alarming rate of labor trafficking in the construction industry globally, which the ILO has stated is a leading source of forced and trafficked labor.
The above examples have many causes, from an economic structure that prizes cheap labor, to laws that never conceived of the flexibility or reach of neo-banking and A.I. capacity that could play a vital role in addressing these issues and saving lives.
Trafficking is a transnational organized crime that is highly adaptive, and absent equally adaptive efforts to combat it; traffickers can exploit the letter of the law to defy its spirit. We have to challenge ourselves to question if we’ve settled for a quid pro quo that provides personal privacy at the cost of lives globally.
To read the full story by Tom Walsh and Julia Ormond on The Hill: Click Here
October 1, 2016
Pray, Love, Act
by Carol Davis, OP
Globally, there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking, with hundreds of thousands in the USA, per the International Labor Organization. Human trafficking occurs in every state and in Washington, DC. There is no single profile, no single way traffickers recruit. There is no single group being targeted; they come from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, varied levels of education, documented and undocumented. They are women, men, children.
When I think of the women I’ve had the privilege to accompany on part of their healing journey, there are some similarities. They carry shame, they desire healing, the light in their souls still shines or at least the embers are glowing. The pain is visceral and so is their courage. When they share their stories I feel sad, pained, angered, and grieved. I also feel deep gratitude for the privilege of being able to support a survivor on her journey of healing, speaking her truth, struggling to choose life. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed.
I remember the prayer of that amazing abolitionist, dreamer, and underground railroad leader who was born in the late 19th century. Harriet Tubman prayed: “I’m going to hold steady on You, an’ You’ve got to see me through.” I pray for the victims and survivors. I pray for myself and those who work for freedom. I pray also for the perpetrators.
It seems to me that the freedom is needed for all – the survivors and, yes, for the perpetrators. There are so many who do not remember who they are, who have lost their way, who have no idea of the holiness, the grace that is in their very soul at birth. If a person knew who they were as a son or daughter of the Divine, they could not commit such atrocities as enslaving another.
Pope Francis tells us that “Every state of life leads to holiness, always”, but only if we are open to the grace of God’s gift. “First, we must bear in mind that holiness is not something that we can procure for ourselves or obtain with our quality and our skills. Holiness is gifted to us by the Lord Jesus, when He takes us up with Him and clothes us in Himself . . .” (Vatican Radio, 9/11/14)
The gifts are at times squandered and there are those who barricade themselves against the gifts of grace. Even there, we must not lose hope. We must continue to pray for the wounded survivors of human trafficking and for the perpetrators.
There are those who have been so wounded they struggle to remember who they are. I’ve been asked by more than one survivor if God could still love her after all that she had been through, the rapes, the prostitution, the drug use and sales, the violence. I want to say to every survivor, “You are made in the image and likeness of the Divine. Yes, you are loved, you are loveable, you are holy”. I also know that my words will ring hollow if I do not live love. We know that faith without works is dead. (see James 3:14ff)
How are you being called to stretch out yourself in love for the sake of the Gospel?
And good will come to
Harriet Tubman reminds us to hold steady to God. Pope Francis reminds us of the universal call to holiness that is pure gift from God. To what action does God’s love impel you today? Is there one thing you can do? Will it be a personal prayer for survivors? Will you take action to get a prayer for an end to human trafficking read from the pulpit in your church or diocese? Will you call your congressional representative and request that they take action? Will you take the time to peruse the US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking website for more ideas?
The prophet Micah challenges us: (6:8)
You have been told oh my people what is good,
to act justly,
to love tenderly,
to walk humbly with your God.