ACRATH Launches 16-Day Campaign Against Human Trafficking

Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans is calling on parishes, schools, and community organisations to join in the global campaign to mark its campaign later this month, 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

ACRATH’S campaign, from November 25 to December 10, urges people to work together to stop the trafficking of girls and women, an extreme form of violence. Many face forced labour in hazardous conditions with no chance of an education and no chance to escape from a cycle of poverty.

ACRATH’s Executive Officer, Christine Carolan, said: “ACRATH wants to encourage people in Australia to light a candle each day for 16 days to remember women and girls facing human trafficking in our world today. But we can’t end with lighting a candle.

“One thing we can all do is to look at the supply chains of the goods we buy in Australia. Who picked the cotton for my clothes? Who made my clothes in a sweatshop in Bangladesh? Which child in West Africa picked the cocoa beans to make my chocolate? As consumers we have such power to try and make a difference.”

Article and video originally appear on CathNews: Click Here

EFFORTS SURROUNDING THE SUPER BOWL: Volunteers Visit Hotels in Bay Area

In addition to their work in San Joaquin County, Judy Lu and Lyn have worked on a hotel project in collaboration with members of nine other Religious Congregations who together form STOP SLAVERY COALITION: Northern California Catholic Sisters against Human Trafficking. Lyn was coordinator of the Coalition for two years until this past October. For the past two years the focus has been on Super Bowl 50, scheduled for Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on February 7, 2016. This is because of the anticipated rise in human trafficking connected with that event.

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Sister John Paul Chao, SMSM, addresses volunteers as they prepare to visit hotels in their area.

The Coalition developed a plan for visiting hotels throughout the Bay Area in order to educate hotel personnel on the reality of human trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, especially involving children, and labor exploitation. The goal is to encourage hotel managers to have personnel trained to recognize and report any suspected trafficking activity around the dates of the Super Bowl. To accomplish this goal, coalition members invited parish groups, colleges, high schools, and civic groups to participate in workshops to learn about human trafficking and to be trained to canvass hotels. One of the tools that volunteers encouraged hotel management to use to train their employees is an online course to increase awareness of human trafficking at hotels. There has been a wonderful response to the invitation and so far 25 workshops have been offered and 95 volunteers have canvassed over 300 hotels in Oakland, San Leandro, Hayward, Union City, Fremont, Castro Valley, San Francisco, Burlingame, Menlo Park, Redwood City, Los Gatos, Campbell, and Saratoga. Among the volunteers were San Rafael Dominican Sisters Cyndie Cammack and Christina Atienza.

#2 Quail Lakes Baptist
Members of Quail Lakes Baptist Church in Stockton prepare to leave for hotel visits in San Francisco.

 

In the past several months, Lyn and Judy Lu have given trainings to groups from St. Dominic’s Parish in San Francisco, to students from both Dominican University in San Rafael, and Drake High School in San Anselmo, to members of Quail Lakes Baptist Church in Stockton, as well as to volunteers from a Gather at Grand presentation given on Human Trafficking in September at the Dominican Sisters Center in San Rafael. These workshops resulted in 44 of the volunteers who visited hotels in San Francisco!

As part of their own on-going formation, Judy, Lyn, several other members of the Coalition, and others met in San Francisco in September with Carol Smolenski, executive director of ECPAT-USA. They were able to incorporate the information shared at this meeting into their trainings for volunteers.

#3 with ECPAT's Carol Smolensky
Coalition members Sister Fran Tobin, RSCJ (pink), and Marie Gaillac, CSJO (tan), and Sr. Judy Lu McDonnell, OP (blue), Carol Smolenski (blue), and  Lyn Kirkconnell (peach).

Once the Coalition had its plan of action firmed up, members contacted other groups in San Francisco and the South Bay for further collaboration in the effort to combat human trafficking at Super Bowl 50 time. These other coalitions are canvassing even more hotels in the area as well as restaurants and transportation hubs. We sincerely hope that these efforts will result in preventing human trafficking and providing assistance to victims.

International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is the modern-day term for slavery. Women, children and men are bought and sold, beaten, abused and sometimes killed as they are traded like commodities on the invisible trafficking markets across the world.

On 8th February, Caritas invites you to participate in the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking which is promoted by the Union of Superiors General. The day marks the feast of Saint Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese woman who was sold into slavery, abused but later freed.

Caritas in Nepal gives women small loans so they have income-generation options at home and don't have to leave their families. Photo by Sheahen/Caritas

Caritas in Nepal gives women small loans so they have income-generation options at home and don’t have to leave their families. Photo by Sheahen/Caritas

The prayer day is an invitation to us all to explore the world of trafficking and the suffering it inflicts on millions of people. It is an opportunity to learn about what trafficking means and to also explore the material, mental and spiritual impact it has on individuals and societies.

Caritas coordinates the work of COATNET (Christian Organisations Against Trafficking in Human Beings) which is a network of 42 Christian groups around the world who fight human trafficking. It believes that the first step towards beating trafficking is to raise global awareness on how it dehumanises people and to take this knowledge to the level of action.

To read the full story from Caritas: Click Here

Sex Trafficking and the Super Bowl 

With just days to go before Sunday’s big game, there is also a much bigger issue at play… children are currently being forced to sell sex, including during major sport events like this one. Sex trafficking is as American as football… and homeless kids, alone and desperate, are the primary targets for this insidious industry.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has already made children’s safety a priority, as her state prepares to host the February 7th game.   Please sign the petition sponsored by Covenant House to urge all the U.S. Attorneys General to protect children from the commercial sex trade. To sign: Click Here

Meet Nadya, A Survivor of Domestic Slavery

The good folks over at Walk Free have created this moving video to call attention to human trafficking in the form of domestic slavery.

To take action, and sign the Walk Free petition: Click Here

Support the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015

Now is the time to shine a light against human trafficking by taking action to protect our brothers and sisters—especially children—from trafficking and exploitation.  Contact your members of Congress today and ask them to fight human trafficking by cosponsoring the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015. This legislation would require companies to make information about their products’ supply chains public to ensure their products are not the result of child and forced labor, slavery and human trafficking.

Thanks in large part to growing awareness, education and outreach, more companies are aware of the possible existence of modern-day slavery in their global operations and supply chains. As Catholics in the United States, we work to fight human trafficking because it is an affront to the lives and dignity of our brothers and sisters who are its victims.

We need you to shine a light against human trafficking today! Contact your members of Congress and ask them to cosponsor and support the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015. Send a message or call your members of Congress using our toll-free number: 866-596-7030. Download talking points here.  (from Catholics Confront Global Poverty)

Action Alert: Fight Child Sex Trafficking in the U.S.

(From change.org) There is a documented connection between our nation’s child foster care systems and child sex trafficking. From 13 to 16, I was trafficked in California. I also was in the foster system.

My personal experience of being indoctrinated began at the age of 11 as I was walking on my way home when I was lured into the vehicle of my trafficker. My life was never the same. 

Right now there are 100,000 to 300,000 underage girls being sold for sex in America. Every year 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States and the average age indoctrination into human trafficking begins between the ages of 12-14 years old. Many of these children have been involved with our nation’s foster care systems which do not have the appropriate training and services to effectively address and resolve these issues.

The Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2015 (SCWRTA) will change this by providing child welfare agencies with up-to-date training and guidelines for working with youth who have been, or are currently, victims of trafficking.

The bill would ensure that each state develops a child protection plan with provisions and procedures to identify and assess all reports involving children known or suspected to be victims of trafficking, training plans for child protective service workers to appropriately respond to reports of child trafficking, and policies and procedures to connect child victims to public or private specialized services.

SCWRTA has already passed the House of Representatives but now needs to pass in the Senate. Please sign this petition to send a message to your Senator that you support this bill.

Children in foster care are at an increased risk of being trafficked. A 2007 report from the U.S. Department of Justice found that 85% of identified child sex trafficking victims in New York State had contact with the child welfare system, and the FBI estimates that 70% of child sex trafficking victims in Florida were involved with child welfare. Throughout the country, the majority of trafficked children have had contact with the foster care system.

If passed, there will be more services and programs created to provide aid for the ones in need and also preventative measures to stop trafficking cases from occurring. Pre-existing services and programs will be strengthened to ensure that those within the industry are rescued and those who have already experienced the trauma are provided adequate treatment.   

The importance of changing the laws and supporting our representatives who utilize their platform to protect our children,  is imperative to who WE are as a people and a nation. We must stand and unite together. We must be a part of the change, to save precious lives.

Please sign my petition asking Congress to pass the Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2015.

Take Action: Click Here

FIFA Play Ball: Help End Modern Slavery in Qatar

Migrant workers in Qatar are living, working and dying in modern slavery to bring the world the 2022 World Cup. FIFA must use its influence over Qatar to improve the working conditions for these workers.Squalid, overcrowded accommodation. Brutally long days working in the blistering heat. Regular abuses of rights such as having passports withheld or being lied to about the nature of promised work.1

This is the everyday reality for migrant workers in Qatar helping to bring us the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Worse still, recent reports show that workers from Nepal and India are dying in record numbers on Qatari construction sites since the country won its World Cup bid.2

FIFA has pledged to do more to improve the “unacceptable” situation for workers on World Cup-related projects,3 but these words have yet to be followed by action.

Call on FIFA to take responsibility for awarding the World Cup to a country with historic issues of worker exploitation and forced labour. FIFA President Sepp Blatter must use his influence over World Cup organisers to ensure all future World Cups are slavery free, including Qatar as a top priority.

Take Action: Click Here

LCWR Action Alert: Urge Your Congress Person to Vote YEA on H.R. 2100

LCWR Logo Color with Name

We expect H.R. 2100: Girls Count Act of 2015 to be brought to the floor of the House for a vote sometime this week.

Please contact your representative today and ask him or her to vote YEA on the Girls Count Act!

The Girls Count Act would help to protect young children around the world, especially girls, who are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking and child marriage. More specifically, it would support birth registration and other legal documentation of children around the world. The legislation also authorizes the U.S. Agency for International Development to build governments’ capacities to increase girls’ access to education, property rights, and other means of economic security.

Approximately 230 million children under the age of five don’t have a birth certificate. Without a birth certificate, it’s nearly impossible to participate fully in society. And yet this is precisely what all children deserve – authentic development: the ability to fully contribute their gifts in their societies and to become the people God intended them to be.

We know that education paves the way for authentic development. Helping children to access education and other necessary support services protects their dignity and reduces their vulnerabilities.

Please call your representative today, and ask him or her to vote YEA on the Girls Count Act: 888-562-8232