The Worldwide Debate About Sex Work: Morality Meets Reality

The streets of Pattaya, Thailand, one of the centers of sex tourism (GSR photo / Gail DeGeorge)
 

Public debate on prostitution can be tough, passionate, even angry.

Advocates for differing views cannot even agree on shared language: Those who defend their way of making a living as sex workers embrace their identity, while those, like Catholic sisters, who decry the term “sex work” as demeaning, argue that there can be no dignity in a relationship where sex is exchanged for money.

“I think all prostitution represents violence against women,” said Sr. Winifred Doherty, who represents the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd at the United Nations.

The passion Doherty and others bring to the topic has been on display during the last year at the U.N., where space for debate about social topics is frequently honored. The topic of prostitution was addressed at several U.N. forums during the March meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women.

And inevitably, the U.N.’s upcoming World Day against Trafficking in Persons on July 30 may prompt debate. The commemoration was designated by U.N. member states beginning in 2013 as necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”

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

Bishop Lauds Bill To Fight Human Trafficking

Washington D.C., Jul 13, 2017 / 04:40 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An upgrade to a key anti-trafficking bill passed the U.S. House on Wednesday, and has been praised by one U.S. bishop as “an important step” in the fight to abolish modern-day slavery.

Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, chair of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee, called H.R. 2200 “an important step Congress can take to help prevent human trafficking and protect victims as it provides important service provisions that will aid victims.”

The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention, Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2017 makes upgrades to existing legislation, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. The new bill is named after Frederick Douglass, who was born a slave in 1818 but escaped to freedom and who spent his time thereafter fighting to abolish the institution of slavery in the U.S.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chair of the House global human rights subcommittee, is the author of the act, with Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), ranking member on the committee, being the bill’s lead sponsor.

The proposed legislation would increase funding for existing anti-trafficking programs in the U.S. and abroad by over $500 million.

Grants will be given to educational programs for students and teachers on how to detect and avoid the trafficking of young people for work or sex. Also, the U.S. government is encouraged under the bill to have employees stay at hotels that have taken concrete steps to prevent trafficking on their property.

To read the full story by Matt Hadro of Catholic News Agency: Click Here

Joining Forces To Fight Human Trafficking

Members of the ACRATH-SVHA anti-trafficking working party

ACRATH and SVHA have launched the Human Trafficking Project, thought to be a first in Australia’s health care sector.

The project will look at how trafficked people – who may present at any of SVHA’s hospitals Australia-wide – can be identified and receive necessary treatment, support, referrals and access to services. This includes women who have been sexually exploited, people facing forced marriage and people who have experienced forced labour.

The project will also look at how to make sure the goods and services procured by St Vincent’s are slavery-free. This means investigating supply chains to make sure a diverse range of goods – everything from medical equipment through to cotton sheets and gowns, and chocolates sold for hospital fundraising – have been produced without the use of enslaved or forced labour.

ACRATH’s executive officer Christine Carolan said work around the long-term project had already begun by developing new supply chain policies for SVHA’s procurement department.

“Slavery proofing supply chains also extends to the employment of people providing services. One example would be ensuring all staff working for third-party cleaning contractors engaged by St Vincent’s are employed under Australian labour regulations,” Ms Carolan said.

To read the full story on CathNews: Click Here

Maryland Bishops Join Fight Against Human Trafficking

Baltimore, Md., Apr 5, 2017 / 06:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Maryland’s bishops united in voicing their concerns over the evils of human trafficking, announcing their sponsorship of a statewide initiative aimed at raising awareness of the issue.  

“The evil of human trafficking is an international, national and local scourge, and a grave violation of the dignity and freedom of all its victims,” Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., and Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington said in an April 3 statement.

“As people of faith, this grave injustice cries out for a response.”

According to the U.S. State Department, upwards of 800,000 victims of trafficking are brought through the U.S. borders every year. Up to 17,500 individuals are also trafficked into the country annually. Globally, the number spikes into an estimated 20 million victims, according to the International Labor Organization.

The bishops lamented that the state of Maryland also sees a number of trafficked victims, due to Interstate 95, which acts as a hub to other cities, especially with the Baltimore Washington International airport nearby.

The bishops’ statement, titled Proclaiming Liberty to Captives, highlighted the duty of Christians to “break the yoke of modern-day slavery,” by raising awareness and supporting organizations that aid victims.

Many efforts are already in place, which rescue trafficked victims and prosecute the perpetrators, such as Maryland’s Human Trafficking Task Force, who rescued almost 400 victims from trafficking in 2014.

The bishops voiced their support of these initiatives, and also announced their own sponsorship of regional trainings that will raise awareness of human trafficking around the state.

“The Catholic bishops in Maryland pledge to devote the resources of the Church to support, unify and expand these efforts wherever possible,” the bishops stated.

“To assist in those efforts, the Catholic Church will sponsor regional trainings throughout the state beginning in the spring of 2017, at which we will bring together national, state and local experts who will provide participants with effective tools for combating human trafficking in our local communities.”

As many victims are not aware of their own captivity, the bishops underscored the importance of these new training programs that would help individuals recognize and identify the signs of a trafficked victim.

 

To read the full story on Catholic News Agency: Click Here

Holy See: ‘Migration Crisis, Human Trafficking A Crisis Of Humanity’

Msgr. Janusz Urbańczyk, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) - RV
Msgr. Janusz Urbańczyk, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – RV
 
(Vatican Radio)  The Vatican’s permanent representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Msgr. Janusz Urbańczyk, has addressed three separate panels at the “17th Alliance against Trafficking in Persons Conference”.

The focus of the conference is on trafficking in children and is taking place in Vienna.

Msgr. Urbańczyk addressed the panels on “Human Trafficking Threats for Children in Crisis”, “Towards Effective Child Protection Systems to Fight Human Trafficking”, and “Looking forward: Guidelines for Policy Development and Implementation”.

At the heart of the Holy See’s message was a call to view the current migration crisis as a “crisis of humanity”.

“The Holy See wishes to reiterate once again that the current crisis of migrant and refugee flow is primarily, in the words of Pope Francis, a crisis of humanity. As such, it is vital that all actors recognise that above all ‘Migrants are not a danger, they are in danger’”.

Msgr. Urbańczyk also urged enhanced cooperation between governments and non-governmental organizations, as well as with members of the private sector.

“It is of great urgency to strengthen cooperation and coordination with NGOs that work in the areas of concern and know the context of poverty and vulnerability where situations of exploitation very often arise. It is also opportune to cooperate with the private sector, in particular with national and local companies, as well as with multinationals, so that they may adopt rigorous and law-abiding behavior.”

Pope Francis on Monday sent a message to the conference: click here to see it.

Please find below the three separate statements:

STATEMENT BY MSGR. JANUSZ URBAŃCZYK, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE HOLY SEE, AT THE 17TH ALLIANCE AGAINST TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS CONFERENCE “TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS AND THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD”

To read the full story on Vatican Radio: Click Here

Australian Archbishop Speaks About Helping Human Trafficking Victim

Australian archbishop speaks about helping human trafficking victim
In this file photo, Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney delivers a homily in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. (Credit: Giovanni Portelli/CNS, The Catholic Weekly.)

The Australian state of New South Wales is investigating the extent of human trafficking within their borders. On Tuesday, the Archbishop of Sydney told the story of the time a person trapped in slavery approached him for help in the suburbs of Sydney.

ROME – The Archbishop of Sydney has personal experience of what the modern slave trade can look like in an affluent western country like Australia.

When he was a parish priest ten years ago in the Sydney suburb of Watson Bay, now-Archbishop Anthony Fisher was approached by a South American nanny who had found herself trapped: Her passport had been taken away, she hadn’t been paid, nor was she even allowed to leave the home in which she worked without permission.

Fisher told the story of this encounter on Tuesday to a parliamentary inquiry into human trafficking in the Australian state of New South Wales.

The inquiry was set up in November by the state parliament to investigate how law enforcement agencies respond to human trafficking, including slavery and slavery-like practices such as forced labour.

Fisher told the committee how he helped the woman escape after contacting police and the church’s welfare agency.

Although most people assume modern slavery is something that only exists in developing countries, thousands of people in the developed world live in slave-like conditions.

The most visible are those trafficked into the sex industry; but many are also working in construction, agriculture, food processing, and as domestic help.

The New South Wales inquiry has heard from several Catholic organizations which advocate against slavery.

One of these, the Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), told the inquiry most of the people affected are immigrants, who have been lied to by traffickers, and are unable to go to the authorities because they fear being sent to a detention center for illegal immigrants.

“They are deceived about the working conditions in Australia, especially with regard to the rate of pay and hours of work and are often forced to work beyond their visa conditions,” the ACRATH submission reads. “In removing the workers to immigration detention it is the people who have had a crime committed against them that are being penalized.”

ACRATH noted that in Australia, there are no national licensing requirements for labor hire businesses, making it easy for a person to set up such a business to traffic people into Australia for the purposes of exploitation and then shut up the company and disappear if law enforcement starts to investigate.

To read the full story on Crux: Click Here

Catholic Relief Services’ Turn on the Light Campaign

Launched earlier in 2017 under the umbrella of Catholics Confront Global Poverty, Catholic Relief Services’ Turn on the Light campaign calls on Catholics and people of goodwill across the U.S. to spend their consumer dollars on ethically produced and traded products while pressing government leaders to strengthen and enforce anti-trafficking laws.

CRS has fought human trafficking and helped its victims with more than 145 projects worldwide since 2000. Their work connects directly to the lived realities of those served and acts as the foundation for developing and supporting policies and procedures to fight trafficking.

Poverty, civil unrest, violence, lack of education lust for power, greed are all contributing factors in making individuals vulnerable to trafficking.  The causes of human trafficking are complex and interlinked, so strategies to combat it must address both supply and demand.   Worldwide, human trafficking is a $150 billion enterprise; and it is illegal in every country in the world.

Throughout the world, especially in poor countries, adults and children are lured away from their homes and families with false promises of legitimate work or education.  They end up in mines, fields, factories, farms, construction sites, homes, hotels, brothels, restaurants and workrooms, with low or no pay and terrible working and living conditions.  Nearly all are victims of violence while enslaved. 

Many of the goods produced or grown are sold in the U.S.  CRS wants to raise awareness of human trafficking in labor and asks people to use their voices and their purchasing power to combat it.

Catholic Relief Services’ Turn on the Light campaign urges people to contact their Senators and Representatives to advocate for key anti-trafficking legislation and to purchase a ‘Turn on the Light’ soy candle made by women who have recently resettled in the U.S. from refugee camps. Proceeds will support CRS’ work combating human trafficking and promoting ethical trade practices.

To learn more, visit Catholics Confront Global Poverty and watch the ‘Turn on the Light’ campaign video on CRS’ YouTube channel.

For additional information visit Catholic Relief Services:  Click Here

Us Senator Sees Vatican As Partner In Fight Against Modern-Day Slavery

ROME- United States Senator Bob Corker was in Rome this week to meet Vatican officials, including Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, discussing a possible partnership between the U.S. and the Holy See in dealing with human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

“We see the Vatican, the Holy See, as a great partner in this effort. I know the pope has spoken about it on several opportunities,” the Republican senator from Tennessee told reporters on Friday.

The meeting between Corker and Vatican officials took place on the same day President Donald Trump pledged to work on “solving the human trafficking epidemic, which is what it is,” calling it “a priority for my administration.”

Trump was speaking at a Session on Domestic and International Human Trafficking, held at the White House on Thursday.

Corker is also the Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations committee, and late last year he was rumored to be a candidate for Trump’s Secretary of State.

As Corker pointed out on Friday, there’s an estimated 27 million people today living in slavery, more than at any time in the world’s history. An estimated 24 percent of the total are in sexual servitude, with 76 percent of them in hard labor.

“The awareness of this is obviously growing, there are many people around the world working diligently,” Corker said.

As an illegal industry, the human trafficking is among the most profitable, comparable to drug and gun trafficking.

“There are so many people around the world working towards [the end of slavery], but there’s yet to be an international effort to bring all of that together, like the international community did with PEPFAR and dealing with the global AIDS issue,” Corker said.

PEPFAR is the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a governmental initiative to help save the lives of those suffering from HIV/AIDS around the world launched under President George W. Bush.

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

 

March Monthly Reflection

The Tenth Station – Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments (John 19:23-24)

by Jeanne Christensen, RSM

Contemplation

During Lent this year, I was asked to reflect on the tenth station – Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments (John 19:23-24). While it is not the Lenten season, I encourage you to become acquainted with Daia, who is so representative of women who are trafficked.

The name we know her by is Daia, but that isn’t her birth name. When Daia was twelve she ran away from home and her mother’s current abusive boyfriend. Within two days on the streets, a young and fun-loving older boy promised her a safe place to stay, food and a chance to be a just-discovered model. Daia thought, “a dream come true.” It became a nightmare of posing for pornographic images and being sold for sex by the boy who made false promises. She, like Jesus, was stripped of her clothing, humiliated and exposed to harsh, unforgiving eyes.

This terrible trauma lasted for many months, until one night she was left for dead in a motel room – beaten for not “meeting expectations” and bringing a good return on the boy’s “investment.” She survived and with help from a small, local organization dedicated to helping victims of trafficking, found her way to healing and recovery. Now she is clothed, praised for her strength to rebuild her life, and the eyes looking at her express pride and encouragement.

Personal Reflection

Daia and so many other women and young girls like her live in your city, maybe even in your neighborhood. You may have seen one of them in your hospital’s emergency department or at the truck stop on the Interstate. She may even be a student in your high school or university. When you see a woman or young girl you suspect is being trafficked, stripped of her dignity, what can you do? You can respond with compassion, being careful to not put her at risk and you can call the National Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888. They will give you safe, accurate information. If it is an emergency situation, call local law enforcement. Whatever you do, don’t look away or remain silent. Mercy requires this of us.

Prayer

Blessed are they who have survived for they will show us courage and hope, dare us to see clearly and to be their voice.

Indian Nun Says Enough To Children Victims Of Human Trafficking

Sister Gracy Rodrigues, an Indian nun and member of the Asian Movement of Women Religious Against Human Trafficking, will not be idle before the cry of children victims of human trafficking. In an essay, Rodrigues calls on everyone to put an end to this modern day form of slavery.

Indian nun says enough to children victims of human trafficking
(Credit: Imagens Evangélicas via Flickr.)

MUMBAI, India – Every two minutes, a child is prepared for sexual exploitation.

For Sister Gracy Rodrigues, an Indian nun with the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity (the Canossians), the calls for help by children who are victims of human trafficking can no longer be ignored.

“Today in every corner of the society and the country we hear the cry of the children, ‘I am not safe’,” Rodrigues wrote in an essay titled ‘Children they are, not slaves.’

Rodrigues is a member of the Asian Movement of Women Religious Against Human Trafficking (AMRAT), a network of 52 religious congregations who collaborate to find solutions and put an end to this modern-day form of slavery and exploitation.

AMRAT wishes to fight this evil by creating awareness. “From awareness to prayer, from prayer to solidarity and from solidarity to concrete action, until slavery and trafficking are terminated,” Rodrigues writes.

Pope Francis insisted on the need to collaborate and fight what he called a “crime against humanity,” while speaking to members of RENATE – Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation on November 7, 2016.

Francis also made the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, on February 8, the World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking.

Speaking at the occurrence this Wednesday, the pope urged governments to give “voice to our younger brothers and sisters who have been wounded in their dignity. All efforts must be made to eradicate this shameful and intolerable crime.”

In one such effort, Rodrigues took part in a rescue mission. When she arrived to the “stinking, polluted, dark” place where three children were kept, she was catapulted in a situation that she would never forget.

“They were treated as slaves. They pleaded and cried before us to be taken away, for they were beaten, burnt, kicked, cheated and looted by the pimp owners,” Rodrigues writes. “This experience has left a mark in my heart which will always move me towards justice and love for the less fortunate, the forgotten, the lost, the least and the unknown.”

An estimated 200 million children today are child laborers and Unicef estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked every year. “They are trafficked for sexual exploitation, pornography production, forced marriage, illegal adoption, forced labour, and to become child soldiers,” Rodrigues writes.

To read the full story by Nirmala Carvalho on Crux: Click Here