A man walks past a banner reading “Stop human trafficking” in 2018 in Valletta, Malta. Caritas Internationalis issued a statement July 28, 2020, that said insufficient attention “was paid on the collateral damage of the ongoing pandemic, especially on migrants and informal workers, who are now more exposed to trafficking and exploitation.” (CNS photo/Guglielmo Mangiapane, Reuters)
Jan. 7, 2020
Catholic San Francisco
Did you know that California is one of the top four states in the nation for human trafficking according to the FBI? The Bay Area is in fact, a national hotspot for the crime.
The Archdiocese of San Francisco is hoping to open the eyes and hearts of Catholics to signs of this insidious crime with a four-part Zoom discussion series starting Jan. 27. Susan Patterson, author of “How You Can Fight Human Trafficking; Over 100 Ways To Make a Difference” will offer an overview of human trafficking in this first session and explain how faith communities can work to eradicate this form of human suffering.
“It’s a clear respect life issue,” Maria Martinez-Mont, respect life coordinator for the archdiocese’s Office of Human Life and Dignity told Catholic San Francisco.
A member of the national Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking, the office organized the local educational series to dovetail with National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January, she said.
The full series will include a Zoom rosary prayer meeting on Feb. 8, the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita and the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking. St. Josephine is believed to have been a child victim of human trafficking herself.
On Feb. 25, speakers Lisa Lungren and Grace Williams will address the fight against child sex trafficking. Lungren represents the U.S. Bishops and Williams is the founder of Children of the Immaculate Heart, a San Diego-based housing and rehabilitation center for sex trafficking survivors and their children. On March 9, Lungren will focus on how parishes can play a key role within dioceses in the fight against human trafficking.
Human trafficking is among the world’s fastest growing criminal enterprises and is estimated to be a $150 billion-a-year global industry, according to the California Dept. of Justice. “It is a form of modern-day slavery that profits from the exploitation of our most vulnerable populations,” according to the website.
The crime involves controlling a person or group through force, fraud, or coercion into forced labor, sexual exploitation, or both. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are more than 24.9 million human trafficking victims worldwide at any time. This includes 16 million victims of labor exploitation, 4.8 million victims of sexual exploitation, and 4.1 million victims of state imposed forced labor. The victims of human trafficking are often young girls and women. Young girls and women are 57.6% of forced labor victims and 99.4% of sex trafficking victims.
In recent years, transnational criminal organizations and affiliated domestic gangs have expanded from drug and firearm trafficking to the trafficking of human beings. California – a populous border state with a significant immigrant population and the world’s fifth largest economy – is one of the nation’s top destination states for trafficking human beings.
The Office of Human Life and Dignity’s webpage describes the damage done to trafficked persons, especially children. “When children are trafficked, their right to develop in a nurturing and loving environment is stolen from them,” it reads.
The page also offers a bounty of educational resources including indicators of child trafficking, California human trafficking legislation, an anti-trafficking toolkit for parishes from the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, and a National Human Trafficking Hotline.
Throughout the month of January, Human Trafficking Awareness Month, an international Christian nonprofit dedicated to bringing an end to sex trafficking is holding a “30 Days of Prayer” campaign. Participants can join Shared Hope International’s prayer campaign any time throughout the month at sharedhope.org and will receive by email a daily focused prayer, scripture and an action item. The campaign culiminates on the National Day of Prayer to End Child Sex Trafficking on Jan. 31.
Register for the human trafficking talk series at sfarch.org/seminars.