Franciscans Sisters of Perpetual Adoration Co-Sponsor Video Series On Human Trafficking

The La Crosse Task Force to End Modern Slavery, founded by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, is co-sponsoring an online video series titled “The Faces of Human Trafficking.”

The FSPAs partnered with Minnesota’s Breaking Free, one of the nation’s leading organizations for working with victims and survivors of sex trafficking to create the series, which is being launched this month in connection with Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

“Our goal was to create an online resource to educate human trafficking support workers and the general public and give voice to the survivors,” said FSPA Sister Corrina Thomas, who serves in the human trafficking field.

The series features stories of survivors, pimps and johns, she said.

For example, Jenny, a survivor who was featured in the series debut Friday, said in her video, “It’s a brainwashing that happens. There’s a reason traffickers go after children.

“I want people to know that women don’t choose this. This is something that happens to them — they’re victims,” said Jenny, who, like other survivors in the series, talk about their childhoods, their time in “the life,” how they survived and what they would like everyone to know about the billion-dollar industry.

Introducing each video is FSPA Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, who founded the task force.

The FSPAs will release the videos at noon on the following dates, with specified ones followed by Twitter Chat via @fspatweets using the hashtag #HumanTraffickingFaces:

  • Jan. 10 — “Meet Laurie”
  • Jan. 12 — “Meet Anne,” followed by Twitter Chat
  • Jan. 17 — “Meet Jessica”
  • Jan. 19 — “Meet Maya,” followed by Twitter Chat
  • Jan. 24 — “Meet Ms. R”

All videos and additional resources will be available at the FSPA web site.

Also this month and into early February, near the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of human trafficking, the series also will feature “Flora,” “Mr. J” and “Mr. P.”

Bakhita, who was born in the Darfur region of southern Sudan in the 19th century, was kidnapped at the age of 7, sold into slavery and given the name Bakhita, which means “fortunate.” She was resold five times, and her owners brutalized her, including branding, beating and cutting her. In one incident, one of her owners rubbed salt into the 114 cuts he had made on her body.

Freed through a series of unusual circumstances, she became attracted to the Catholic faith and became a Canossian nun, assisting her religious community through cooking, sewing, embroidery and welcoming visitors. Her canonization as a saint in 2000 resulted in part from the affection of children attending the sisters’ school and local citizens.

The FSPAs also will host a public human trafficking awareness prayer service on at 4 p.m. Feb. 6 in Mary of the Angels Chapel at 901 Franciscan Way in La Crosse.

To view the story by Mike Tighe as it originally appears on The La Crosse Tribune: Click Here

Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration-founded Task Force to End Modern Slavery Launches Video Series

Join FSPA-hosted Twitter chats during Human Trafficking Awareness Month

La Crosse, Wis. – The Franciscans Sisters of Perpetual Adoration-founded Task Force to End Modern Slavery partnered with Minnesota’s Breaking Free, one of the nation’s leading organizations for working with victims and survivors of sex trafficking, to create “The Faces of Human Trafficking” video series. The series will be launched throughout January, Human Trafficking Awareness month.

“Our goal was to create an online resource to educate human trafficking support workers, the general public and give voice to the survivors,” said Sister Corrina Thomas, who serves in the field of human trafficking. “With the help of Breaking Free, we’re introducing the world to the stories of survivors, pimps (sellers) and Johns (buyers).”

“It’s a brainwashing that happens; there’s a reason traffickers go after children,” said Jenny, human trafficking survivor featured in the series debut. “I want people to know that women don’t choose this. This is something that happens to them; they’re victims.” Jenny and other survivors featured in “The Faces of Human Trafficking” recall their childhoods, their time in “the life,” how they survived and what they’d like everyone to know about this billion dollar industry.

Each video is introduced by Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, founder of La Crosse Task Force to End Modern Slavery. 

Release Dates
FSPA will release all videos at noon CST at www.fspa.org/modernslavery and all Twitter Chats will be hosted on Fridays from 12:30-12:45 p.m. CST at www.twitter.com/fspatweets using the hashtag #HumanTraffickingFaces.

Friday, Jan. 5 (released now): Meet Jenny, followed by Twitter Chat @fspatweets using #HumanTraffickingFaces

 Wednesday, Jan. 10: Meet Laurie

 Friday, Jan. 12: Meet Anne, followed by Twitter Chat @fspatweets using #HumanTraffickingFaces

 Wednesday, Jan. 17: Meet Jessica

 Friday, Jan. 19: Meet Maya, followed by Twitter Chat @fspatweets using #HumanTraffickingFaces

 Wednesday, Jan. 24: Meet Ms. R

All videos, and additional resources, will be available at www.fspa.org/modernslavery. Later this month and into early February, near the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of human trafficking, we’ll also introduce you to Flora, Mr. J and Mr. P.

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration will also host a human trafficking awareness prayer service on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 at 4 p.m. in Mary of the Angels Chapel, 901 Franciscan Way, La Crosse, Wisconsin. All are welcome. 

Based in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration are women religious engaged in furthering the work of the Catholic Church and the Gospel. Their partners in ministry, including affiliates and prayer partners, join them in service of God’s mission. The sisters work in the United States and internationally in varied ministries, creating innovative approaches to healing, teaching and praying. Visit FSPA online at www.fspa.org.

 

Whoopi Goldberg, ‘The View’ Help Sex-Trafficking Victims Transform Their Lives

Sociology Major Uses Marketing Internship to Help Former Human Trafficking Victims

Slavery was formally abolished in the United States in 1865 by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution—today, all countries have abolished slavery However, slavery continues to exist in practice in the form of human trafficking, which is often called modern-day slavery. Victoria Erdel’s (Class of 2019, sociology) curiosity to learn more about the impact of human trafficking on its victims led her to complete a summer internship helping trafficking victims using her written and visual communication skills.

For seven weeks, For seven weeks, Victoria worked with Starfish Project, a jewelry-making social enterprise in Asia that helps previously trafficked women establish careers and gain their independence.Victoria was a marketing and communications intern who helped the organization share the stories of women who were sex trafficked. “As an intern, I began by creating behind-the-scenes content for their social media accounts,” Erdel said. “However, during my third week I was assigned to come up with new ways to share the women’s stories.” That new mode of sharing stories came in the form of videos visualizing each woman’s experiences. Each video consists of Victoria drawing out the narrative of a given Starfish worker, which turns a person’s tragic story into a work of beauty and hope.

Victoria’s interest in working with Starfish Project started when she was 13 years old. She met the group’s founder when she gave a talk at Victoria’s church in Mishawaka, a town only a few miles away from Notre Dame. The talk inspired Victoria to learn more about human trafficking and how to fight it. During her sophomore year at Notre Dame, Victoria believed that she was now in a position to help the Starfish Project using a skillset developed during her first two years at the University. She learned about the marketing internship opportunity available to work directly with the women of Starfish Project in Asia.

The experience was valuable for Victoria, but it did not come without its difficulties. Going to a place where the dominant language was Chinese without any knowledge of it posed a challenge for Victoria. “I was worried about how I would be able to communicate with others, but I am glad that it went smoothly in the end.” Victoria said. Given the subject matter of Starfish Project’s activities, it was inevitable that the experience would be an emotional one for Victoria. “I had to be emotionally prepared to collect the stories from the women there. Some of the things they dealt with were quite dramatic,” Victoria said. Despite the difficulties of the internship, Victoria was inspired to continue her work on human trafficking once she came back to the United States.

To read the full story by Grant Johnson on Notre Dame‘s website: Click Here

UC Berkeley Graduate Student Fights Human Trafficking Through Algorithms

Rebecca Portnoff, a doctoral candidate in the UC Berkeley School of Engineering, developed two algorithms aimed to scan through online sex advertisements and find human trafficking circles.

Portnoff presented her dissertation findings Wednesday at KDD 2017, a data science conference in Canada. The algorithms look through sex advertisements on Backpage, an online classified advertisements site, to find human traffickers, according to Portnoff. There is a difference, she added, between sex advertisements that are consensual and those that are related to human trafficking.

“This idea of being able to group together ads by their true owner — the underlying issue is that we would like to help law enforcement prioritize their focus,” Portnoff said. “They want to focus on people who do not choose and who are being forcibly trafficked.

She worked with four other researchers to write a paper about these algorithms, including professor Damon McCoy at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. McCoy said the first algorithm links advertisements to a single writer using stylometry, which is the study of people’s writing styles.

To read the full story by Malini Ramaiyer on The Daily Californian: Click Here

ASU Class Empowers Health-Care Professionals To End Human Trafficking

A patient enters an examination room. She is young —14, maybe 15. She is walking gingerly; wearing sneakers, baggy jeans and a sweatshirt — in 104-degree weather. A few steps behind her is another young woman, a little older, early to mid-20s maybe. She hands over a clipboard with the patient’s medical information and introduces herself to the attending nurse practitioner as the patient’s aunt.

A quick scan shows the document is missing an address and contact information. The aunt quickly explains that they are both staying with some friends in the area until they find a new apartment. The patient remains silent; eyes cast downward; she looks nervous. She speaks softly, offering just a few words about a sore throat and discomfort in her lower back when the nurse practitioner asks what brings her in today.

Standing in a corner of the room just a few feet away, the aunt’s anxious glances alternate between the back of the patient’s head and the examiner’s questioning lips. Bruises dot the patient’s arm when she rolls up her sleeve to allow a blood pressure cuff to be wrapped around her upper arm. The nurse practitioner casually asks how she got the bruises on her arm. A tense silence fills the room. The aunt shifts her weight before reminding the patient of her recent mishap with the boxes they were moving.

The patient’s eyes meets the nurse practitioner’s eyes.

What the nurse practitioner decides to do next could be life-altering for all of the actors in this scenario. And that is just what Samantha Calvin hopes will happen after students take her new class through Arizona State University’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation this fall.

To read the full story by Suzanne Wilson on the Arizona State University site:Click Here

Cleveland Browns Coach Launches Foundation To Combat Human Trafficking

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson is tackling a disturbing problem that’s not always visible.

Jackson and his wife, Michelle, have launched a foundation to support organizations that combat human trafficking and aid its victims, women who are exploited, abused and scarred for life.

“We’re all in,” Jackson said during a kickoff event at the team’s headquarters. “We want to make a difference in this area.”

On Thursday, The Hue Jackson Foundation announced a partnership with the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland to provide secure housing for women who have been victimized by human trafficking — modern-day slavery that involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.

Jackson’s affiliation will raise awareness to an issue that often goes unreported and undetected.

“I’m not afraid of a challenge,” said Jackson, who went just 1-15 during his first season with the Browns. “We’ve seen the impact of what this creature does to people.”

To read the full story by Tom Withers on APNews: Click Here

August Monthly Reflection

Traffik 2017: A New Art Exhibit about Human Trafficking

Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA

On May 11-12, 2017 Mayo Clinic-Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse, WI held its 20th annual conference on Child Maltreatment with support from the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center, Coulee Region Child Abuse Prevention Task Force, Family & Children’s Center – Stepping Stones, the La Crosse Task Force to End Modern Slavery, and Viterbo University Art Department. This nationally recognized conference addresses strategies that multidisciplinary teams can use to intervene when child maltreatment is reported, collaborate with community and family to protect children, and ensure justice for child victims of abuse/neglect.

This year the conference devoted a full day to human trafficking. Speakers addressed national and state legislation, human trafficking in a globalized context, assisting victims, and suppression of demand on the part of law enforcement. A special feature of the conference was a nationally juried art exhibit organized and presented by the Viterbo University Art Department, entitled Traffik 2017. The goal was to create a space for artists to express themselves, and for others to dwell among works that have been highly considered, in the context of this issue. The call to artists invited submission of works with an implication for introspection on the theme, the issues that surround it or its effects, and to explore broader interpretations of issues that it raises, such as oppression, illicit economies, invisibility, innocence, social justice and others. (http://www.viterbo.edu/art-department/traffik-2017-call-artists)

Image by Margaret Miller, Viterbo Art Alumni 2014

Viterbo University received some 50 entries from artists all over the United States and one from Austria. Since the call was open to anyone 18 years of age and older, entries represented the full spectrum of working artists, from high school and college students, to university professors, to professional and amateur working artists. The jury selected 28 pieces for the show.

A sampling from the exhibit is shown here with the permission of the artists. Their own words describe their creations.

Barbed Wire with Butterfly #2

By Daniel Stokes

Terra Cotta

I have chosen to describe the theme by illustrating the contrast embodied by my subject matter, butterflies and barbed wire. The butterfly representing the fragile, the harmless, the beautiful. All those precious things of this world that are vulnerable by their very nature including men, women, and children.

Barbed wire, whose sole purpose for existence is to inflict pain, as a symbol of the methods and attitudes of those who in service of greed would control, imprison, even enslave the weak and innocent through threats of violence, to whom human beings are nothing more than mere property to be bought, sold, and ultimately destroyed.

Dark Cities

by Anna Lucille Strunk (Lucy)

Acrylic

The top half of the painting shows Americans going about their everyday lives. The blue background reflects a calm and cool world, where there is nothing to be concerned about. The white figures are the everyday people, going about their lives in the cities and towns. The small size and white color represents how most people don’t think outside of their little worlds, and how they believe everything is right and pure.

The lower portion portrays the suffering of people and children taken by the calamity of human trafficking. The red background represents the burning pain and suffering experienced by these individuals. The hunched, black figures are those who have been taken and sold into slavery. They are a larger size than the white figures above because the problem of human trafficking is larger than we think it is. The bent over posture is for the treacherous work they are put through, and how they are sold to people who make things that we use every day, being put in a position that, in an unfortunate way, supports our country.

The black city and Empire State Building that rests over the bottom half of the painting represent the United States being ignorant or ignoring the issue. Our “perfect” little world has horrible and tragic happenings occurring beneath it.

Selling

Rick Carraway

Acrylic on canvas

In painting Selling, I wanted to capture the commerce of selling oneself to survive, and probably not by choice. The Swedish government has found that much of the vast profit generated by the global prostitution industry goes into the pockets of human traffickers. The Swedish government said, “International trafficking in human beings could not flourish but for the existence of local prostitution markets where men are willing and able to buy and sell women and children for sexual exploitation.”

 

This image was not submitted to the exhibit, but represents in a survivor’s own efforts how art can be helpful in the struggle toward healing and freedom.

Survivor Woman

By KN (survivor)

Acrylic mixed with other mediums

Most of the symbolism is in the side where the face is dark or shaded. It represents either the side of us we don’t know or the side we want to be unknown. The side that makes it look as if the wind is blowing to me represents how we are constantly changing. I also think the earthy colors are grounding.

“KN” affirms that art is another way to convey the message from the survivor. Art therapy opens up areas that have been blocked and helps the individual get at the pain from another angle. It functions like a castle with different doors where one can enter the memories and work with them. The doors can be closed again and issues can be put away when the survivor is not working on them. For her, the castle concept is a way to contain the reality so that it cannot have a continuously destructive influence on her life.

Art is frequently used in healing modalities for survivors of human trafficking. It also provides an entry for understanding more clearly the reality of this criminal activity which engulfs our world. Viewers at the Traffik 2017 art exhibit found it profoundly meaningful.

The obvious benefit of the Mayo Clinic-Franciscan Healthcare Child Maltreatment Conference was not only the knowledge conveyed in a variety of ways, but the collaboration among social institutions that is essential to making a contribution to ending modern slavery in the 21st century. Mayo Clinic-Franciscan Healthcare and Viterbo University are sponsored ministries of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse. The author of this article convened and continues to chair the La Crosse Task Force to End Modern Slavery.

Traffik 2017 will be on display at the Viterbo University Art Gallery from August 30-September 29, 2017. For more information, Department Chairwoman Sherri Lisota, can be contacted at sjlisota@viterbo.edu.

 

Sisters’ Collaborative Rack Card Effort Raises Awareness at Tourist Destinations in Wisconsin

by Emily Anderson

 

Five congregations of women religious collaborated to develop a rack card to spread awareness about human trafficking in Wisconsin. 10,000 rack cards were printed and are being distributed to 825+ rack locations at travel stops such as convenience stores, truck plazas, and other tourism destinations across Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

The rack card, which measures 4” x 9” and is printed in color front and back, shares the fact that human trafficking happens everywhere, and asks tourists to help end this crime in Wisconsin by becoming aware, learning more, and reporting suspicious activity as they travel, through two smartphone apps, Redlight Traffic and TraffickCam. It also shares the “red flag” signs of human trafficking in potential victims and shares significant statistics about human trafficking.

The Congregations of women religious who participated include the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother (Oshkosh, Wis.), the Holy Cross Sisters (Merrill, Wis.), the Servants of Mary (Ladysmith, Wis.), the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis (Stevens Point, Wis.) and the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross (Green Bay, Wis.). With 5 Congregations participating, the cost to each was approximately $300 for this initiative.

The rack locations are serviced every other week, and the cards will be replenished by drivers for one year, beginning in June, 2017. If all 10,000 cards are distributed prior to the year-end date, the Congregations will consider printing more rack cards.

Design of the card was done by the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, and printing and distribution were handled through 5 Star Marketing, Tomahawk, Wis.

 

Alaskans Walk Barefoot Through Anchorage To Raise Awareness About Human Trafficking

Breanna Rutledge stood barefoot in downtown Anchorage on Saturday afternoon, joining her husband, young daughter and roughly 300 others who walked a mile around the city to raise awareness about human trafficking.

For 25-year-old Rutledge, the walk was personal. Rutledge said she was kidnapped as a toddler in Kansas and sexually exploited for three years, until she was rescued by law enforcement at age 6. She said Saturday’s walk gave her hope.

“It just shows me that it can be done, that our task to end trafficking here in Alaska isn’t too large,” Rutledge said in an interview Saturday after she and two other survivors of human trafficking had addressed the crowd in Town Square Park.

Daisy, Gina, Rhiannon and Bonnie Forstner wait for The Barefoot Mile walk to start in downtown Anchorage on Saturday. (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)

Cities across the countries have held similar 1-mile walks, called “The Barefoot Mile,” to raise awareness about human trafficking and to walk in solidarity with impoverished children who are most vulnerable to trafficking, according to Jeff Brodsky, the Colorado-based founder of Joy International and The Barefoot Mile. He attended Saturday’s walk.

Brodsky said he has gone without shoes for about seven years, since he went to a garbage dump in Cambodia to feed the children who gathered there and he noticed all of the children were barefoot.

To read the full story by Tegan Hanlon, on Alaska Dispatch News: Click Here