Tag Archive: Talitha Kum

ECPAT Awards Recognize Human Trafficking Heroes

October 18, 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.


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Pope Renews Calls For End To Human Trafficking

August 31, 2021

Pope Francis joined religious and world leaders in calling for an end to human trafficking on 30 July, the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

He tweeted: “I invite everyone to work together with the victims to transform the economy of trafficking into an economy of care.”

Between 20 and 40 million people are estimated to be trapped in modern slavery today, an illegal billion-dollar business where traffickers exploit vulnerable people for labour, prostitution, and trade in organs.

Talitha Kum, the global Anti-Trafficking Network of Consecrated Life Against Trafficking in Persons, launched a campaign entitled #CareAgainstTrafficking last week.

Its international coordinator, Sr Gabriella Bottani, urged people of goodwill “to come together and tackle the systemic causes of human trafficking, to transform the economy of trafficking into an economy of care”. She asked governments “to commit to long-term support for survivors”, including access to education, jobs, justice and healthcare.

Read the full story by Ellen Teague on The Tablet.

Catholic Nuns Doing ‘Very Hidden Work’ Are Stopping Pimps And Saving Children

April 8, 2021

GUWAHATI, India — Sister Rose Paite stepped inside this sprawling city’s main train station and scanned the crowd. She often visits public gathering places like this as part of her life’s mission: to save children from being trafficked.

In seconds, Paite was off. She had spotted a situation that alarmed her — a young girl, maybe 15 years old, sitting beside a much older man in a crisp button-down shirt. Paite walked up to them and began asking questions.

Where are you going? How did you meet this man?

The answers confirmed Paite’s suspicion.

The girl said she had just met the man on the train. It wasn’t clear where she was headed next.

Paite, who was wearing a black tunic and white veil, talked to her for nearly four minutes and handed over her card. She wanted to be able to check in on the girl, but the girl refused to give Paite her phone number.

Before walking away, the diminutive Roman Catholic nun warned the man, but she said he was dismissive.

“That girl, truly, will get into trouble,” Paite said. “She is so vulnerable.”

Then Paite skittered off again. The Guwahati train station was busy. There were more children likely to be in danger.

Human trafficking is everywhere

Paite is not a lone crusader. She’s part of a vast but little-known network of Catholic nuns dedicated to fighting human trafficking across the globe. The organization, Talitha Kum, was formed in Rome in 2009 and now operates quietly in 92 countries.

The group is made up of roughly 60,000 religious sisters. The work they do is often dangerous and daring — confronting pimps on darkened streets, patrolling dusty alleys that host brothels. The sisters also operate safe houses in several countries, providing refuge for women and girls fleeing their captors.

Their work doesn’t only take place in the streets. The organization pushes for systemic change, lobbying for stronger laws to combat human trafficking.

“If you want people to understand the urgency of the problem, you can’t be tiptoeing around it,” said Sister Jeanne Christensen, a member of the board of directors of the U.S. Catholic Sisters against Human Trafficking, which works with Talitha Kum.

Read the full story by Jake Whitman, Cynthia McFadden, and Rich Schapiro on Yahoo! News.

How COVID-19 Made Sex Trafficking In Latin America Much Worse

November 10, 2020

The trafficking of women in Latin America has increased with the Covid-19 pandemic, according to church activists who support the victims of sexual and labor exploitation in the region. Perpetrators have also changed how they lure and abuse young women, mainly by using digital devices.

“The economic crisis left many women without any income. Poverty, confinement and amplified violence generated a situation of more vulnerability for them,” said Carmen Ugarte García, an oblate sister and coordinator of Red Rahamim, a Mexican network of religious people who support victims and work on prevention.

Sister Ugarte’s movement is part of the Rome-based Talitha Kum, a network of initiatives led by women religious congregations against human trafficking. On July 30, the World Day Against Trafficking, several of the Latin American Talitha Kum members reported an escalation in activity, Sister Ugarte told America.

“Reporting [it] has always been something hard and scary for those women. Now it’s even more difficult, given that throughout the continent the police and the courts are much more inaccessible, with the imposition of social distancing measures,” she said.

Traffickers transport women from Central and South America through Mexico, Sister Ugarte said. Even though travel through Latin America is now restricted because of the pandemic, traffickers continue to victimize migrants and refugees. Within Mexico’s borders, young women have been abused in several ways.

“Many women are homeless, so they have to prostitute themselves to pay the rent. Others are forced by their own husbands to do so—something that has increased during the Covid-19 crisis,” she said.

At the beginning of the pandemic, with hotels shut down, trafficked women were forced to meet with men on the street or in their own homes. In Mexican coastal tourist destinations, Sister Urgarte reported, there has been a sharp climb in violence against women. At the same time, the confinement brought about by the pandemic boosted digital forms of recruiting and abusing teenagers and young women.

To read the full story by Eduardo Campos Lima on America: Click Here

Women’s Equality and Human Trafficking

March 9, 2020

This excerpt is from the Talitha Kum Assembly’s Final Declaration. To read our full declaration: Click Here

First priority: The power differential between men and women in all sectors: economic, social, familial, political, cultural, and religious.

We denounce the objectification and denigration of women that contributes to a global culture of exploitation and violence against women, reflected in human trafficking. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, 72% of people exploited through human trafficking are women and girls. There are many forms of human trafficking including sexual exploitation, labor exploitation, and illegal organ removal. When it comes to sex trafficking, females make up an even higher percentage of victims.

We call on the Church, as the Body of Christ and an example to society, to witness to the value and dignity of women and girls by promoting their proper role in all sectors. May this commitment be reflected within the Church by involving women in decision-making processes, especially on topics that impact them. We call on Episcopal Conferences, Religious Brothers and Sisters, and Diocesan Clergy and laity to collaborate with women as equals in order to transform the culture of domination and to support the networks of Talitha Kum in their diocese and local communities. We call on governments around the world to ensure that law and policy promotes and protects the dignity and rights of women and girls.

We commit ourselves to empower one another as leaders in the fight to end human trafficking; to strengthen our networks’ inclusive model of working together; to stand in solidarity with all who are oppressed, especially women and girls; and to promote the dignity and equality of all people.

Nuns’ Global Anti-Trafficking Network Must Have More Support, Pope Says

November 25, 2019

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis called on more religious orders of men and women, as well as foundations and benefactors, to get involved and help an international network of women religious in the fight against human trafficking.

He praised the many institutes of consecrated life that already have supported their members working on prevention, public awareness and assisting survivors of trafficking through the network, Talitha Kum.

“While I invite you to continue this commitment, I am also making an appeal to other religious congregations — both women’s and men’s — for them to join this missionary work, putting people and resources at its service so that it can reach everywhere,” he told network members during an audience at the Vatican Sept. 26.

The pope met with some 86 delegates of Talitha Kum from 48 different countries and other people taking part in the network’s general assembly Sept. 21-27.

Founded 10 years ago, Talitha Kum now coordinates 52 networks of religious women in more than 90 countries. With more than 2,000 people on the ground, their efforts have helped more than 15,000 victims and reached more than 200,000 others through educational and awareness-raising campaigns or workshops in the past decade.

The pope highlighted the way the work fosters collaboration and unity among different religious orders. The network operates under the auspices of the women’s International Union of Superiors General and collaborates with the men’s Union of Superiors General.

These many congregations deserve recognition for being the “vanguard” and working on the frontlines in the church’s missionary efforts against human trafficking, he said.

To read the full story by Carol Glatz on National Catholic Reporter: Click Here

Pope Commends Nuns For ‘Standing On Front Line’ Against Human Trafficking

November 18, 2019

Speaking to a network of religious sisters that helps human trafficking victims, Pope Francis on Thursday told them to work closely with the local church, because this is necessary for their project to be successful.

“I want to reiterate that the journey of consecrated life, both female and male, is the path of ecclesial insertion,” Francis said. He discussed how religious must work within the bounds of officialdom. “Outside the Church and in parallel with the local church, things do not work.”

The pope also praised the network of religious sisters that combats human trafficking for being “on the front line.”

The pope was speaking to the first general assembly of Talitha Kum, a project started in 2001 by the International Union of Superiors General. Today, it’s a worldwide network coordinating the efforts of religious communities committed to the fight against human trafficking, which affects an estimated 40 million people.

Talitha Kum now coordinates 52 religious networks present in more than 90 countries on six continents. There are currently some 2,000 operators in the network who have helped more than 15,000 trafficking victims and given formation to over 200,000 people in prevention and awareness programs.

The network met in Rome Sept 21-27 for its first general assembly. The meeting sought to set the main objectives of the network for the next five years, identifying priorities and evaluating the path traveled so far.

To read the full story by Inés San Martín on Angelus News: Click Here

Anti-Trafficking Action Feels Like Joining A Wave

November 11, 2019

I have been enthralled to read the articles about sisters throughout the world who are on the frontlines of fighting against human trafficking, and rescuing the victims. One of the articles particularly struck me. I think it was a sister from Nigeria who said something along the lines of, “Do not think of your efforts to be as a drop in the ocean but that we are an ocean of many drops.” This led me to think of my own journey of trying to stop the evil effects of human trafficking and how often I felt I was only a drop in the ocean, especially since I am getting on in years!

From the Talitha Kum website — its section on Nigeria — I read that one of our own sisters, Blandina Ryan of the Medical Missionaries of Mary, helped bring about awareness of this erosion of the human dignity of Nigerian women, through the Nigeria Conference of Women Religious. In 1999, while working in Nigeria, I first heard about Sister Blandina working in collaboration with other women religious in Italy; they met trafficked Nigerian women and restored them to their families. I knew she risked her life and was very proud of her.

Upon my return to the United States in 2002, I found some ways to help. In a circular letter from the Christian Brothers Investment Services, Julie Tanner suggested leaving a copy of the letter at hotel and motel desks for the managers, asking them to train their staff to look out for human trafficking. After several years of this I was delighted to hear from ECPAT (formerly End Child Prostitution And Trafficking) that most of the hotels had complied with this code; now it was time to thank them for doing so.

My next project was to ask if I could use the same sort of letter to write airlines, to ask them to sign the code to protect children from human trafficking; I received help from ECPAT’s Michelle Guelbart. Delta Airlines had already signed the code, so I wrote to the CEO of American Airlines to do the same — and also asked him to train his flight attendants to watch for human trafficking on its flights.

I heard nothing, but a year later, my sister traveled with American Airlines and sat next to a woman who told her she was the flight attendant in charge of training the American Airlines flight attendants. I thanked God for his providence because if my sister had not told me this story I would have given up hope. I have since learned that many sisters have been working on alerting airlines to the tragedy in human trafficking through the efforts of the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, or USCSAHT.

Recently I heard about another sister with U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, who used to “corner” the flight attendants on every flight she took, to talk to them about how to detect human trafficking. There was a recent story about how airline staff in the Philippines detected a woman trying to smuggle a six day old baby out of the country in a sleeve sling. The baby was rescued.

Not knowing about this yet, my next move was to write to the CEO of American Airlines to congratulate him for training the flight attendants; before asking him to sign the code I checked the ECPAT website and found that American Airlines had signed the code a few months before. Overjoyed, I thanked God again.

I was encouraged to continue when I remembered something about the woman at the well from a book by Blessed Dom Columba Marmion. He said that all she had was a glimmer of goodwill, and Jesus used that glimmer to reveal himself to her and send her forth as his missionary.


To read the full story by Margaret Anne Meyer on Global Sisters Report: Click Here

Mercy Sister To Talitha Kum: Uphold Human Rights To Combat Trafficking

October 28, 2019

ROME — Australian Mercy Sr. Angela Reed recalled a survivor of trafficking in the Philippines who said to her, “You know, Sister, there are plenty of people who live in poverty, but not all are trafficked.” 

That provoked Reed to dig deeper when it came to the factors surrounding human trafficking, which are often simplified to fit a straightforward problem-solution paradigm, she said Sept. 23 on a panel addressing sisters who work against trafficking. The 86 delegates of women religious had come to Rome from 48 countries for the anniversary of Talitha Kum, a network of networks for sisters involved in this ministry.

“Some of the major challenges we face is to identify the problem and reframe the narrative from … a random act of victimization to understanding and recognizing it as systemic and long-term cumulative disadvantage over one’s life,” said Reed, who represents Mercy International Association/Mercy Global Action at the United Nations.

Reed pointed to “two very clear issues that need our attention,” which Comboni Missionary Sr. Gabriella Bottani, Talitha Kum’s international coordinator, mentioned in her opening address Sept. 21: the rejection of neoliberalism, which puts profits over people, and patriarchy, which endorses male privilege and power.

Joined by three other experts, Reed focused on vulnerabilities and what is missed when they become the emphasis in the conversation around trafficking as well as “the tendency of society to pathologize, make the victims the problem, saying they are the ones who have the problems and somehow, they are responsible for their situation.

“But survivors tell us a different story,” said Reed, who is Mercy International Association’s global action coordinator, overseeing her congregation’s advocacy work, with a particular focus on the trafficking of women and girls.

Three expert panelists and a moderator shared the stage with Reed: Teresa Albano from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, who moderated the panel; Helen Okoro, a social educator who works with survivors in Sicily; Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, U.N. special rapporteur on trafficking in persons; and Carlos Andrés Pérez from the Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants initiative under the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Echoing conversations sisters had earlier in the week, Reed pointed to patriarchy, sexual violence, colonialism and racism as the root causes of trafficking, and “how we define the problem determines how we think about solutions.”


To read the full story by Soli Sagado on Global Sisters Report: Click Here

Address Of His Holiness Pope Francis To Participants In The First General Assembly Of “Talitha Kum” The International Network Of Consecrated Life Against Human Trafficking

October 21, 2019

Dear Sisters,

I am very pleased to receive you today on the occasion of your first General Assembly. I thank Sister Kafka and Sister Bottani for their introduction. Talitha Kum was born in 2001 from a missionary intuition of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG). It flourishes today as a worldwide network that coordinates the efforts of Institutes of Consecrated Life against human trafficking. In just ten years it has come to coordinate 52 religious networks in more than 90 countries on all continents. The statistics of your service speak for themselves: 2000 workers, more than 15,000 victims of trafficking assisted and more than 200,000 people reached with prevention and awareness-raising activities.

I congratulate you on the important work you are doing amid very complex and tragic situations. Your work brings together the missions of different institutions and demands cooperation between them. You have chosen to be on the front line. Therefore the numerous Congregations that have worked and continue to work as the “avant-garde” of the Church’s missionary activity against the scourge of human trafficking deserve gratitude (see Address to Participants in the International Conference on Human Trafficking, 11 April 2019). This is also a model of how to work together. It is an example for the whole Church, and also for us: men, priests, bishops … You are giving a great example – keep at it!

In this, your first assembly, your main objective is to evaluate progress made and to identify missionary priorities for the next five years. In the various working sessions, you have chosen to discuss two main issues related to the phenomenon of trafficking. On the one hand, the great differences that still mark the condition of women in the world, which stem mainly from socio-cultural factors. On the other, the limits of the neoliberal development model, which risks undermining the state with its individualistic vision. These undoubtedly complex and urgent challenges require adequate and effective answers. I know that in your assembly you have committed yourself to identifying solutions and highlighting the resources necessary to carry them out. I appreciate this work of pastoral planning with a view to providing more competent and fruitful assistance to the local Churches.

While important, these are not the only challenges that face. The Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development recently published “Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking”, a document that sets forth the complexity of today’s challenges and offers clear pointers for all pastoral workers committed to working in this area.

I renew my encouragement to all the women’s Institutes of Consecrated Life that have organized and supported the commitment of their sisters in the fight against trafficking and in helping victims. While I invite you to continue this commitment, I also appeal to other Religious Congregations, both female and male, to join this missionary work, devoting personal service and resources so that they can reach remote corners of the earth. I also hope that foundations and benefactors will multiply and ensure generous and disinterested support for your activities. With regard to this invitation, I realize the problems that many Congregations have; indeed some, both female and male, may tell you: “We have so many problems to solve internally, we cannot…”. Tell them that the Pope said that “internal” problems are resolved by going out on the road, so that fresh air can enter.


To read the full statement from Pope Francis on Liberia EditricVaticana: Click Here