May Monthly Reflection

What Does It Mean to be Safe?

by Sister Kathleen Bryant, RSC

Neurologists say that our brains are always scanning for information, for danger, for distraction like a vacuum cleaner! The stressful lives that we lead are not healthy for our brains. We all need time and space to just be, and to awaken to our safety and well-being. One of the meditations designed by Dr. Rick Hanson, helps us to rewire our brains so that we can be more mindful and contemplative. I use this meditation with a diverse population and ask them for an image that makes them feel safe. In silence and as one of the steps they sit still with that image and it has effects on the body and their wellbeing. You can view powerpoint slides of his meditations and neuroplasticity of the brain here.

What does this have to do with human trafficking? After rescue and during rehabilitation, how do we help our survivors experience safety?  How safe can they be if they are living in the same city as their trafficker? How do we help with their healing process by creating safety “zones” in their lives? I have used this meditation practice with women and it helps cultivate a sense of safety and peace.

One of the most effective programs for trauma healing that I have ever experienced provides protocols for helping people get to a safety zone. Pat Cane, Founder and CEO of Capacitar trains people to use these healing protocols with survivors of trauma and violence. Using a rich menu of tai chi, fingerholding meditation, acupressure, pal dan gum, tapping, and more, the survivor is equipped and empowered to be part of her or his own healing process.  All you need is your breath and your body.  You can view the emergency kit at on  in several different languages. Look at the home page for stories of work with trauma survivors globally as well as efforts to nurture peace is some very violent parts of the world.

Safety has been foremost on my mind because of a recent tragedy in which three girls were shot, or executed, on Easter Sunday night at an orphanage in a nearby country by a cartel. They had been victims of trafficking and the cartels controlled the market. No photos or places can be disclosed with reverence and protection of those who loved them. However, this story will give you an understanding of the total control and lack of any safety these girls experience here.

At a FADICA gathering in February this year, a few of us were asked to speak about human trafficking and the border between California and Mexico.  Little did we know at the time that some of the stories we shared of escape, healing and support would have such a brutal ending.  The most recent girl was rescued was one year old. Did the traffickers want her for child porn or for her organs? This is the reality we deal with and pray for an end to this unspeakable exploitation. 

I thought of all the effort that went into helping these young girls with rehabilitation—medical and emotional—surgeries and therapy, and yet one shot ended it all.  We wrestle with systemic change when we work for justice. We advocate, meet with government officials, march, educate and try to prevent.  How can we imagine possible ways to go to the source of this trafficking enterprise and find ways to diffuse their power? There is no true healing if the survivor does not feel safe. These executions sent a clear message about who is in control. 

As people of faith we believe that good does defeat evil, that Light can penetrate any darkness. In this Easter season, how can we nurture faith in the transformative power of suffering and death that ends in new life? I struggle as I see their faces and know their stories. It impels us into further action with the powers that be. Our contemplative lives, if authentic, impel us into social action. Otherwise, we sit in impotent silence.

April, 2017 Reflection

Human Trafficking Survivors: Leaving Their Tombs Behind

by Sister Maryann Mueller, CSSF

As we celebrate the Feast of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we may be reminded of another Gospel story where Jesus affected the resurrection of a little girl, the twelve year old daughter of Jairus. In Mark’s Gospel we read:

He took along the child’s father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.

The phrase Talitha Kum is the name of the International Network of Consecrated Life Against Trafficking in Persons. The expression enfleshes the transformative power embodied in the daily earthly resurrections experienced by survivors wounded by human trafficking. Each time a survivor is able to hear the words “I say to you arise!” and leaves the “tomb” of a past which may drain them of life they give witness to the lesson of the resurrected Christ from which flows the strength of the human spirit.

Catholic Sisters throughout the United States and the world offer various services which help survivors arise from their unimaginable “tombs.”   Sisters provide shelter and safe housing to survivors. They are engaged with basic life skills training and with ensuring that survivors know their legal rights. Sisters assist these men and women with work skills training and help them to reintegrate into society.

One avenue that has empowered survivors of trafficking to leave the tombs of the past and rebuild their lives is businesses that train and hire survivors of trafficking. Organizations listed on the resource section of this website work with survivors of trafficking to obtain job skills and help them earn a sustainable income. Survivors may learn to make and sell candles, soap and fragrances, jewelry, bags and other gifts.  Several companies will help survivors with education, or will use proceeds to subsidize vocational programs for them. Some of these companies also hire those at risk for trafficking or donate a portion of their profits to organizations that combat human trafficking. Each purchase from any of these businesses help support and provide former victims of trafficking with the tools and opportunities to leave the tombs of their past, to “arise,” and to astound us all with the tenacity of the human spirit.

To visit our resource section: Click Here

March Monthly Reflection

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

by Jeanne Christensen, RSM


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.


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

Collaboration Boosts Sisters’ Anti-Trafficking Efforts

A woman code-named “Blessing,” a Nigerian victim of human trafficking, was working as a prostitute on the streets of Italy in the fall when police arrested her and took her to a detention camp because she had no documents.

Italian sisters who belong to an anti-trafficking group called Slaves No More visit this detention camp every Saturday and encourage the young women to come to them for assistance upon their release from the camp. While at the camp, the Italian sisters gave Blessing the contact information for St. Louis Sr. Patricia Ebegbulem, director of Bakhita Villa, a safe house in Lagos, Nigeria.

On Oct. 12, Blessing learned she was to be unexpectedly deported that day. She managed to get word to the Italian sisters, who called Ebegbulem. The next morning, Sisters of St. Louis met Blessing at the cargo section of the Lagos airport. There were about 40 deported women and 60 deported men in the plane.

Ebegbulem took Blessing to Bakhita Villa, where she still lives, receiving counseling, taking computer classes, and building the skills she will need for a productive life. In 2016, the Bakhita Villa sisters rescued nine victims, including Blessing.

Looking back on my 14 years in community leadership and five years of working with anti-trafficking groups at the United Nations, I think the work against trafficking and the support of its victims are the most powerful issues that unite women religious today. It is all of “one piece” with issues of migration, violence against women and children, and many of the other social justice ministries we pursue.

According to the U.N., there are 2.4 million trafficking victims worldwide at any given time. However, exact numbers are difficult to find because trafficking is “chameleon-like” and overlaps with forced marriage, migration and other social phenomena. Sometimes people don’t even know they are trafficked.

(GSR graphic / Toni-Ann Ortiz)

The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime recently published its Global Report on Trafficking in Persons for 2016. In the preface to this report, Yury Fedotov, executive director of the office, said, “Perhaps the most worrying development is that the movement of refugees and migrants, the largest seen since World War II, has arguably intensified since 2014. … Within these massive migratory movements, are vulnerable children, women and men who can be easily exploited by smugglers and traffickers.”

The report states that in 2014, while most victims of trafficking were still female (71 percent), the percentage of trafficked men and boys had risen in the last 10 years.

This year, the focus is on children who are exploited through trafficking. The United Nations estimates that almost one in every three victims of trafficking is a child; UNICEF reported that 30 million children have been sexually exploited over the last 30 years.

Talitha Kum at the jubilee celebration for the International Union of Superiors General (Courtesy of Talitha Kum-Rome)

Long before trafficking became widely known as a “popular cause,” sisters were forming local, national and international networks against trafficking. In the 1990s, they began integrating their networks. In 1998, the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) agreed to initiate “greater collaborative efforts against trafficking in persons.”

They studied the issue, produced training materials for member congregations, and developed more joint efforts against trafficking. A training program developed in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration led to regional networks being established in Italy, Albania, Nigeria, Romania, Thailand, Brazil, Portugal, Philippines and South Africa, according to the UISG website on anti-trafficking efforts.

In 2009, UISG created an organization called Talitha Kum (from Mark 5:41, when Jesus says, “Little girl, get up”) to serve as “the International Network of Consecrated Life Against Trafficking, with a representative at the UISG,” according to the Talitha Kum website. Talitha Kum continues to provide training courses and materials, to set up new networks, and to collaborate with other organizations working against trafficking in persons. There are 17 regional Talitha Kum member networks in more than 70 countries and on five continents.

The sisters’ regional and national organizations provide a supportive network for many smaller groups and ministries of sisters already engaged in a variety of anti-trafficking activities. One example of how the networks resulted in stronger advocacy groups is the Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans, which has allied with the Australian government and receives government funding for its activities against human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

“One of the most positive results of our work … is the breadth and depth of collaboration that is now taking place,” said Humility of Mary Sr. Anne Victory, a member of the national U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking working in the Cleveland area.

An anti-trafficking protest in South Africa (Courtesy of Kadir Van Lohuizen (NOOR))

“What started as a collaborative effort of seven religious congregations in the area to raise awareness through education and advocacy,” Victory wrote in an email to GSR, “has extended to a wide variety of social service providers, health care systems, law enforcement, the courts and others who share in awareness-raising and also address the real needs of victims along with efforts to prevent this crime.”

There have been some positive international gains, such as the adoption of the U.N. Agenda for Sustainable Development, with some goals and targets directed at trafficking in persons. In 2016, the U.N. Summit for Refugees and Migrants produced a groundbreaking New York Declaration that addresses the consequences of large movements of refugees and migrants.

The U.N. has taken many steps to bring attention to the crime of trafficking in persons and designated July 30 as the U.N. World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. The Vatican also has been actively working against human trafficking: Pope Francis dedicated his message for the World Day of Peace 2015 to this theme, making it a priority of international diplomacy for the Holy See.

The pope has spoken about trafficking to international religious and church leaders, diplomats, police chiefs and mayors, social scientists and scholars, judges, and various conferences throughout the world. And he has not just been talking. He has hosted conferences, spearheaded the 2014 Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery, and catalyzed the creation of the Santa Marta Group, which brings together Catholic leaders and international law enforcement officials to battle trafficking.

(GSR graphic / Pam Hackenmiller)

Anti-trafficking days are also observed in the United States. In 2012, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration designated Feb. 8 as an annual day of prayer for survivors and victims of human trafficking. Former President Barack Obama designated January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and the U.S. National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is observed annually on Jan. 11.

To read the full article by Michele Morek, OSU, on Global Sisters Report: Click Here

Michele Morek, OSU, is a member of the Board of Directors for US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.

February Monthly Reflection

St. Josephine Bakhita: A Saint For Our Time

By the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center

During the month of February, we commemorate St. Josephine Bakhita, who has come to be known as a symbol of hope for Catholics in the anti-human trafficking movement. St. Josephine was sold into slavery as a young girl in her home country of Sudan, but later in life she escaped and became a Canossian sister in Italy.

St. Josephine Bakhita’s story, although occurring over one hundred years ago, reflects some of the same realities that many human trafficking victims face today. There are so many untold stories of individuals trapped in situations of exploitation through force, fraud, or coercion. We have a tendency in doing this work to lump these stories together into statistics and data in an effort to convey to people the how human trafficking reaches every corner of the earth, every industry, gender, and age group. St. Josephine reminds us that behind these statistics are nearly 21 million individual stories of suffering.

St. Josephine reminds us of a man we work with who for years was exploited right here in the United States at a sandwich shop and was then apprehended by U.S. immigration officials for being undocumented. I think of his resilience in advocating for himself and obtaining legal residency and using his voice to shed light on the issue of human trafficking that occurs right here in our backyard.

St. Josephine reminds us of the service providers who work 12 hour days to assist in providing for human trafficking survivors’ basic needs after escaping exploitation. This type of dedication can only be brought out through immense compassion and hope.

St. Josephine reminds us of the people overseas who are exploited making the products we in the western world could not imagine our lives without. Cell phones, clothing, shoes, jewelry, and other products have a higher cost than just the money we pay for them, a cost paid in the suffering of those who are not paid a fair wage, work long hours, and do not have access to safety equipment.

So, to commemorate these stories, we invite you to honor St. Josephine on her Feast Day, February 8th, and to hold in your heart all victims of human trafficking in three ways:

  1. Gather your family, religious community, and friends to say the prayer of St. Josephine Bakhita (below).
  2. Choose one of the US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking’s Educational Modules to study and reflect upon.
  3. Contact your Members of Congress by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and urge them to continue the work to end human trafficking globally.

As people of faith, we have a long legacy of commemorating those who have gone before us to pave the way for justice. So on February 8th, let us continue the work to end human trafficking and celebrate how far we’ve come.

St. Josephine Bakhita, you were sold into slavery as a child
and endured untold hardship and suffering.
Once liberated from your physical enslavement,
you found true redemption in your encounter with
Christ and his Church.

O St. Bakhita, assist all those who are trapped in a
state of slavery;
Intercede with God on their behalf
so that they will be released from their chains
of captivity.

Those whom man enslaves, let God set free.
Provide comfort to survivors of slavery
and let them look to you as an example of hope
and faith.

Help all survivors find healing from their wounds.
We ask for your prayers and intercessions for
those enslaved among us.



Prayer: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Migration and Refugee Services


The Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center is a member organization of the US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking. IPJC is sponsored by 21 religious communities and works for justice in the church and in the world through education, advocacy and organizing.

Sister Of St. Francis Raising Awareness About Human Trafficking

CLINTON — The Sisters of St. Francis are continuing to shed light on modern human trafficking.

“National Human Trafficking Awareness Day” took place Wednesday, and the month of January has also been designated as “National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.” Because of this, the Sisters are ramping up their efforts this month to bring the issue to the forefront of discussion.

The Sisters took a corporate stance on human trafficking in 2015, stating “We, the Sisters of St. Francis of Clinton, Iowa, oppose all forms of human trafficking which violate basic human rights and exploit vulnerable people, and we will put forth our efforts to end this heinous practice.”

Franciscan Peace Center Director of Community Outreach Lori Freudenberg said the Sisters are always hard at work to promote causes such as this.

“We’ve worked with a lot of local organizations, local teachers, local trucking companies, and really as many people as we can to stay on top of this,” Freudenberg said. “The police department, healthcare workers… we’ve tried to spread our resources out as much as we are able to.”

To read the full article by Jake Mosbach at The Clinton Herald: Click Here 

La Crosse Task Force Continues Fight Against Human Trafficking

When the La Crosse Task Force to Eradicate Modern Slavery was established in 2013, the perception of human trafficking in the area was largely one of denial and indifference. Almost four years later, the data is hard to ignore and the call to action more urgent.

“People didn’t think this was an issue … the media wasn’t reporting on it,” said Sister Marlene Weisenbeck of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, one of the task force’s 50 members. “I’ve run into that attitude a lot — people aren’t ready to hear it, they don’t believe it. That’s changing with the awareness created.”

As part of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, TFEMS has released the results of a survey distributed to more than 80 La Crosse area law enforcement, human services, health care and educational organizations in December 2015. Thirty-nine responses were received, and, while 18 reported encounters with trafficking victims, 10 of the 39 organizations reported there was no training in place for handling the reports and six stated no efforts to raise awareness or promote prevention had been made. Though many were equipped to provide victims with medical and mental health services, few offer legal services, and trauma-informed care and coordinated local resources were identified as needs. Recognizing indicators of trafficking was cited as a lead barrier to service, along with lack of funding and local resources.

“We tried to get the survey in the hands of any agency that might meet a victim,” Weisenbeck said. “The next effort is to try to help organizations collaborate with one another.”

Wesisenback became passionate about the issue in 2012, when she was asked by the Obama administration to join the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.

“You come home and you’ve got this experience suddenly and you know you should do something about it,” Weisenbeck said. “A lot of people think the victims in the U.S. come from abroad, but over 80 percent come from here in the U.S. — is one of the biggest perpetrators.” is the world’s largest classified advertisement site and posts more than a million sex ads per day, according to a 2016 report from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. In addition to sexual exploitation, human trafficking, which is a 9.2 billion dollar industry in the U.S., can also involve forced labor and involuntary domestic servitude, with an estimated 300,000 child victims averaging age 13.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline received 255 calls and 50 reports of human trafficking in Wisconsin between January and September 2016: 42 of the cases involved female victims, 13 of them minors. Of the 50, 41 cases involved sex trafficking, eight forced labor, and one a combination. Seventy-nine percent of the reports occurred in Milwaukee, but the La Crosse area was not immune, with a high-profile child trafficking and prostitution bust at a French Island motel in October 2015, and the recent sentencing of a Sparta man who lured three women into a prostitution ring with the promise of heroin and the threat of withdrawal.

Many victims are reluctant to come forward for fear of being prosecuted themselves. Wisconsin Act 367 was introduced in 2015 to require agencies to report children used for sex trafficking or prostitution as victims. In addition, the definition of trafficking was expanded to include transporting, patronizing or soliciting any child, or attempting to do so, for a commercial sex act. The law goes into effect May 29. Still, many victims find themselves powerless over the promise of money, drugs and security that traffickers provide.

“Some don’t want to leave — staying in a shelter is hard,” Weisenbeck said. “They make a lot more money from sex than they would at a minimum wage job, which is probably all they would qualify for without education and experience.”

To read the full story by Emily Pyrek of La Crosse Tribune: Click Here 

Awareness Fosters Hope For Often-Invisible Sex-Trafficking Victims In The Midwest

(Unsplash/Roberto Tumini)

Sr. Gladys Leigh still thinks about two women she wrote to in prison in 2015.

The survivors of sex trafficking had been accepted into Magdalene St. Louis, a program that helps women live free from abuse, addiction and prostitution. They served 12 months in prison for prostitution, and before their release, Leigh, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet-St. Louis Province and a volunteer with Magdalene, wrote them encouraging letters. They responded, seeking assurance that they would really be living in a safe, loving place. They did not believe it was possible, Leigh said.

” ‘Can it be true?’ they asked me,” said Leigh, 70. “I said, ‘Yes, yes.’ I had to convince them. That really touched my heart. It showed me what they had lived through.”

The two women Leigh spoke of are among hundreds of people trafficked yearly in the United States. According to a 2012 report by the Urban Institute and Northeastern University, sex trafficking accounted for 85 percent of trafficking cases identified by law enforcement, followed by labor trafficking at 11 percent. Cases involving both labor and sex trafficking totaled 4 percent.

From January to September last year, 4,177 sex trafficking cases were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

(GSR graphic / Toni-Ann Ortiz)

The problem has become so prevalent that in 2011, President Barack Obama designated January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is observed annually on Jan. 11. And in 2015, the Vatican named Feb. 8 the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a federal statute passed into law in 2000 by the U.S. Congress, defines sex trafficking as a commercial sex act “induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.” The definition is applicable to U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike.

“Sex trafficking is so covert,” said Sr. Esther Hogan with Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of O’Fallon, Missouri. “People are not aware. This is so hidden. The women who are trafficked are vulnerable and invisible. People need to know this.”

Of the 67 congregations that are members of U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, about 25 are congregations from the Midwest. Midwestern states like Missouri have become hubs for sex trafficking because of their central location, experts say. An extensive highway and interstate system with hundreds of truck stops and rest areas make it a target location for sex trafficking.

According to the Polaris Project, one of the country’s biggest anti-human-trafficking organizations, 79 sex trafficking cases were reported in Missouri in the first nine months of 2016.

“If we don’t know anything about it, we can’t do anything to change it,” Hogan said. “How many people have heard of human trafficking? How many people know what it looks like? If we don’t know what it is or what to look for, how can we help?”


Hogan’s Sisters of the Most Precious Blood, members of the American Association of University Women, and the Coalition Against Trafficking and Exploitation started the St. Charles Coalition Against Human Trafficking in 2013. Hogan and her congregation have also launched the Yellow Butterfly Campaign to address human trafficking on college campuses.

Too often, sex trafficking can be identified or concealed by another crime, such as domestic abuse, said Emily Russell, victims advocate with the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association.

“I deal with all kinds of situations,” Russell said. “You work with someone, and you learn their parents trafficked them, or they ran away and met a pimp, or they’re in a domestic violence situation. You see the manipulation. They are stuck and can’t get out. It’s not that difficult to consider whether the abuser is forcing women to perform sex acts for drugs.”

Remote rural communities make up much of the Midwest and make illegal activity such as sex trafficking easier to conceal. But hubs of activity also provide opportunities to traffickers. Students in the Midwest’s many universities and colleges may be drawn into trafficking because they live away from home with little supervision. The need to make money to pay back student loans can become a dangerous inducement to accept what sounds like a moneymaking opportunity without fully understanding the consequences.

“Because of its central location and all the means of transportation available — planes, trains and trucks — kids can end up anywhere in the country in 36 hours from here,” said Russ Tuttle with the Stop Trafficking Project and KC Street Hope in Kansas City, Missouri. “The gang level of sex trafficking is increasing [in the Midwest], as well. A trafficker can be any person who wants to exploit a child. It’s a cash windfall for them, not for the child.”

Based in Dubuque, Iowa, Franciscan Sr. Shirley Fineran — who belongs to the Siouxland Coalition Against Human Trafficking — said those in Iowa are “probably a little bit more trusting than those in other parts of the country.” She said social media tends to be a primary place where people are “groomed” for trafficking, as vulnerabilities can be exploited through connections and relationships made online.

Her goal is to open a restoration center for adult women by the fall, where she will house five to 10 women for up to two years. Fineran said the center will be a place where “women will go to heal [from] the traumatic experiences that they’ve had.”

 “We’re going to help women live the rest of their lives as best they can with what they’ve experienced,” she said. That process will include both group and individual trauma therapy, as well as helping women acquire life skills that “most of us who have had a normal development in life take for granted,” such as cooking, laundry, and basic communication and problem-solving skills. If the women have children and need help regaining custody or reuniting with their kids, the center will also help them with those legal matters, Fineran said.

To read the full story by by J. Malcolm Garcia and Soli Salgado at Global Sisters Report: Click Here 

Sr. Angela Reed on “Reframing Human Trafficking”

Reframing Human Trafficking: a Human Rights, Life Course Approach

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Following her talk at Notre Dame Law School, Dr. Reed sat with Christine Cervenak, Associate Director of The Center for Civil and Human Rights, for a conversation that touched upon her research methodologies and findings. The conversation was conducted as part of the Asia Working Group, a collaborative effort of the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. The conversation can be viewed below.

For the original pst by Patrick Deegan of University of Notre Dame’s Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies: Click Here

January Reflection


Sister Margaret Nacke, CSJ

January is National Human Trafficking Awareness month. Although January is the beginning of a New Year, the topic of human trafficking is not new nor will it offer millions of women, men, and children across the globe, including the United States, an opportunity for a new lease on life. The month ensures visibility on the issue of trafficking but January 31st cannot be the end of reminding the public that the slavery of people is intolerable in any society that calls itself human. In some parts of the world, January is a month that is dark and cold, an apt parallel to the millions whose lives have been relegated to commodity status, to slavery, and live in a world darkened by the selfishness and greed of those whose own lives are without light.

Who are these slaves who live in the shadow of death, whose dignity is abused and ignored and whose lives are given in obedience to money makers and evil doers? They are children who will never see the inside of a classroom because they work like “little adults” day in and day out, harvesting the cocoa for chocolate they will never taste. They are young men who cannot dream of a better life because every moment is governed by the number of fish they catch in waters far away from their homelands. They are older men who work in the depths of the earth, mining coal that will warm the homes they will never visit. These slaves are women who will never stand in their own kitchens and prepare meals for their children because they are in servitude in other kitchens to masters or mistresses whose consciences do not allow an opening for the light of human respect.

St. Francis of Assisi says that “all the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a small candle.” It may not be a candle, but each of us has the power to illuminate the paths of those whose lives we touch or even never will touch. Each of us is called to be a bearer of light. The prayers we offer can be that light. Prayer is without boundaries. It can reach across genders, cultures, countries and even into the lives of the most desperate. Prayer offers life-support and the difference we make through prayer can make all the difference.

Remembering those who live in darkness – the trafficked as well as the traffickers and buyers of the slave trade – we pray the words of the song: Christ be our Light, shine in our hearts, shine in the darkness.

Sister Margaret Nacke, CSJ, is the founder of the Bakhita Initiative and a Founding Member of U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.