Prayer, information, action to help stop human trafficking

A screenshot of the Trafficking section on the Global Sisters Report website (GSR screenshot)

A screenshot of the Trafficking section on the Global Sisters Report website (GSR screenshot)

Catholic sisters have been assisting victims of human trafficking and educating about this form of modern-day slavery for decades. In 2009, they began combining and amplifying their efforts in collaborative organizations such as Talitha Kum and its worldwide "network of networks," including the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking. Sisters are also active with the anti-trafficking efforts of organizations such as the Africa Faith and Justice Network. Secular organizations and governmental departments have also developed anti-trafficking programs.

In honor of the Feb. 8 feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of human trafficking survivors, Global Sisters Report is providing information about prayer services, links to some of our past coverage and other resources. St. Josephine was a Sudanese woman born around 1869 who was captured and enslaved as a child, and later taken to Italy where she obtained her freedom and became a Canossian sister. She served as a Canossian sister for another 45 years. She died in 1947 and was canonized in 2000.

The International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking has a series of prayer services based on this year's theme, "Journeying in Dignity." There is a live stream of a pilgrimage of prayer and awareness and information on how to participate with social media. The website also has information about trafficking, how to help thwart it and a poignant story about a young woman who was trafficked, escaped and rebuilt her life with the help of two nuns.

The U.S. Sisters Against Human Trafficking has a wealth of information and resources to educate about trafficking, how the organization assists victims and how you can take action. The Talitha Kum website also has studies, resources, prayer and discussion guides.

Organizations not connected directly with sisters are also working to raise awareness and combat trafficking. Polaris, an organization dedicated to ending sex and labor trafficking in North America, published a study Jan. 30 about trafficking survivors in the U.S. and how they face significant economic and social obstacles in trying to recover their lives. The results of the study "demonstrate a shocking reality that survivors of human trafficking in the United States are far from thriving, and that the systems that are supposed to support them are failing," the organization said in a press release about the study.

The U.S. Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime released a guide to help build an awareness campaign under the theme of "Collaboration, Transformation, Impact," which also commemorates the 20 years of its efforts in trying to prevent human trafficking. It includes sample social media and blog posts and other information.

Global Sisters Report has a section devoted to anti-trafficking. Read some of our inspiring — and often heart-breaking — stories, questions-and-answers articles and columns by sisters. Last year, we interviewed the coordinators of Red Kawsay, the Talitha Kum chapter for Buenos Aires. In November, we published an amazing story by Tracy Barnett about the efforts of the Oblate Sisters of the Most Holy Redeemer to help women caught in the sex trade in Mexico City. Barnett wrote about her own reactions and experiences doing this story in an accompanying "reporter's notebook" that is insightful and moving.

Sr. Eucharia Madueke, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur from Nigeria and the women empowerment coordinator for the Africa Faith and Justice Network, wrote a powerful column about the anti-trafficking success that Nigerian sisters, working with AFJN, have had in Edo state.

These are just some of the stories and columns you'll find amid our coverage about the efforts of Catholic sisters to thwart the evil of human trafficking. We invite you to reflect, pray and read on how you can take action so that this scourge will be eliminated.

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