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

New U.N. Role Needed To Fight Human Trafficking In Conflict: Experts

Refugees and migrants cross the Old Sava Bridge heading in the direction of the Croatian border, in Belgrade, Serbia November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica
Refugees and migrants cross the Old Sava Bridge heading in the direction of the Croatian border, in Belgrade, Serbia November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – People displaced by war across the world are at heightened risk of human trafficking due to gaps in the United Nations’ response, campaigners said on Monday, calling for the creation of a new U.N. office to fight modern slavery.

Nearly 46 million people around the world are living as slaves, forced to work in factories, mines and farms, sold for sex, trapped in debt bondage or born into servitude, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index by rights group Walk Free Foundation.

Refugees are considered particularly vulnerable as poverty, insecurity and the necessity to flee war push them in the arms of traffickers who often operate with impunity in conflict areas.

Almost half of migrants traveling to Italy from North Africa said they were forced to work against their will along the way, mainly in lawless Libya, a survey by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) published last month found.

The U.N.’s response to trafficking amid the global refugee crisis has been fragmented, according to a report by Freedom Fund, an international initiative to fight slavery.

Several agencies, including the U.N.’s refugee agency (UNHCR) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have taken steps to tackle different forms of trafficking, but with little coordination, the Freedom Fund said.

 To read the full story by Umberto Bacchi on Reuters: Click Here

Hotel Industry Responds to Human Trafficking Crisis with New Online Training Program

Human trafficking of children and adults continues to be a serious issue for the global hospitality industry, as traffickers sometimes use hotels to carry out their illegal operations. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), in partnership with Marriott International, ECPAT-USA, and the Polaris Project, this month will begin offering an online training program to help hotel employees identify and respond to human trafficking at hotel properties.

Your Role in Preventing Human Trafficking: Recognize the Signs, available through the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI), was developed in response to the growing demand from global hospitality brands for an expansion of the online course, The Role of Hospitality in Preventing and Reacting to Child Trafficking, released by AHLEI and ECPAT-USA in January 2014. The expanded training course provides an overview of the issues of human trafficking, suggested protocols for responding to suspicious activity, and signs of trafficking specific to different hospitality positions (in-room staff, restaurant, lobby, and security).

“Training employees in a variety of roles in hotels is critical, so they can be the eyes and ears of identifying potential survivors in one of the most frequently documented human trafficking venues,” said Courtney Walsh, Advisory Services, Polaris.

Features of the expanded program include:

  • Information on human trafficking of both children and adults for the purposes of both sex and labor
  • Globalized information to make the program relevant at properties around the world, not just in the United States—currently available in English, the training will eventually be available in 14 additional languages
  • Content that is compliant with many new city ordinances and state laws requiring hotels to train their employees on human trafficking.

“We are so excited that the update not only broadens training to include both labor and sex trafficking but it is also now relevant on a global level,” said Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement for ECPAT-USA. “The hospitality industry has made such headway in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and we know that with this re-launch, we will see even more progress.”

To read the full story on HospitalityNet: Click Here

Pope: Raise Awareness About “Scourge” Of Human Trafficking

(Vatican Radio) On Monday, Pope Francis spoke out against human trafficking, in an address to members of RENATE: Religious in Europe Networking against trafficking and exploitation).

The group is in Rome for their 2ndEuropean Assembly, which took place on Sunday. The theme of this year’s assembly was “Ending Trafficking Begins with Us.”

In his address to members of the group, Pope Francis once again denounced “the trade in human beings” as “a modern form of slavery, which violates the God-given dignity of so many of our brothers and sisters, and constitutes a true crime against humanity.” He acknowledged that much has been accomplished in educating the public about human trafficking, but said “much more needs to be done on the level of raising public consciousness” and in coordinating the various efforts of those engaged in fighting against trafficking in human persons.

The Holy Father commended the work of RENATE in raising public awareness about the extent of “this scourge which especially affects women and children.” He especially praised them for their “faithful witness to the Gospel of mercy, as demonstrated in [their] commitment to the recovery and rehabilitation of victims.” The Pope made special mention of the work of women in accompanying other women and children in the process of recovery.

To read the full story and listen to the program on Vatican Radio: Click Here

Religious Women Critical In Fight Against Trafficking, Says Advocate

Ivonne van de Kar, an anti-trafficking advocate from the Netherlands, is seen at the Vatican press hall with Sister Monica Chikwe, a member of the Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy, who works with trafficked Nigerian women, Nov. 4. (CNS photo / Carol Glatz)
Ivonne van de Kar, an anti-trafficking advocate from the Netherlands, is seen at the Vatican press hall with Sister Monica Chikwe, a member of the Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy, who works with trafficked Nigerian women, Nov. 4. (CNS photo / Carol Glatz)

Women religious are often the first people to discover problems emerging in society because they work directly with so many people in need, an anti-trafficking advocate said.

However, because religious focus more on providing assistance than publicizing their efforts, the rest of the world is often slower to catch on to where there is trouble, said Ivonne van de Kar, the coordinator of the Foundation of Religious Against Trafficking of Women in the Netherlands.

Women religious in the Netherlands, for example, “had started to work with women in prostitution when there was absolutely no attention (given to) them,” and they provided a safe space for women to rest and chat, she told Catholic News Service November 4.

Offering coffee and a listening ear, the women religious were finding out as early as 1981 that some women were being forced into the sex trade and that marked the beginning of the sisters’ work against trafficking. The religious quickly involved the police and later some other organizations, including van de Kar’s in the early 1990s.

“Very often it’s the sisters who discover a problem because they work with the people and they see what is happening on the streets and are there for them,” she said.

But speaking up more about their work is “one of the things I always tell them,” so they can widen the scope of awareness and the response to so many problems, she said.

“We help the sisters do more with PR, to make people aware of the fantastic work that has been done,” she said, adding that the pope recognizing and thanking women religious for their anti-trafficking work was also encouraging and very helpful.

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

Fight Against Human Trafficking Moving “Centre Stage”

A young Bangladeshi trafficking victim who was sold to a brothel. Photo : UNICEF-Shehzad Nooran

A young Bangladeshi trafficking victim who was sold to a brothel. Photo : UNICEF-Shehzad Noorani

The fight against human trafficking is increasingly moving “centre stage” as an issue for the international community, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, (UNODC).

The agency says that human trafficking affects every country of the world, as countries of origin, transit or destination.

Andita Listyarini reports.

UNODC says there are no firm figures for the number of people globally who are victims of human trafficking, although it does disproportionally affect women and children, who make up some 80 per cent of those trafficked.

Speaking at an event at the UN focusing on the ratification of the Palermo Protocol, an instrument to prevent, suppress and punish traffickers, the Executive-Director of UNODC, Yury Fedotov, said fighting crimes such as trafficking was critical to  meeting new development targets.

“The focus on crime is no longer on the periphery of building sustainable development; it is moving centre stage and it is increasingly being recognised as a significant barrier to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

According to UNODC, sexual exploitation is by far the most commonly identified form of human trafficking representing 79 per cent of all cases, followed by forced labour.

Andita Listyarini, United Nations.



To download or listen to the story at United Nations Radio: Click Here

November Monthly Reflection

Do my actions and beliefs reflect Redemption?

by Sister Sally Duffy, S.C.

A pattern of behaviors and conditions exist at the intersection of many issues, such as human trafficking, immigration and the need to migrate for asylees and refugees, poverty and inequity, domestic violence, treatment of prisoners and the racial disparity in our criminal justice system, and care for creation. Whenever a person of our global home is denied their God-given dignity and shared membership in our society there is control, manipulation, violence, demeaning words and acts, isolation, intimidation, exploitation and abuse of power.

Patterns exist in all our lives and reflect the fundamental direction of our lives in relationship to God and our neighbor. Do our norms, behaviors and patterns reflect God’s life and love and demand right relationship or do they diminish, harm, deny life and collude in injustice?

When we advocate for justice, for right relationship and shared membership, can we help others to see the pattern and the intersection of the issues? As Catholic Sisters, we are pro-birth and pro-life about the seamless garment of life. We need to give voice and visibility to people who are kept victimized, living in the shadows and living in inhumane and punitive situations. Whenever possible, we need to empower and share power so victims of injustice can speak and be visible.

sunsethandsModern day slavery, whether it is labor or sex trafficking, is so profitable regardless of the economic system. All issues that victimize, marginalize, isolate, keep people vulnerable, disempower, strip dignity and keep people on crosses are sinful because of our turning away from God’s love and seeking reliance in false gods. In this Year of Mercy, we must ask for God’s help and guidance to participate in patterns of behavior and conditions that reflect our fundamental direction as individuals, as a country, and as the People of God.

Will we end modern day slavery and minimize the circumstances by working for comprehensive immigration reform and integration, restorative justice and ending the death penalty and move in the direction of an ecological conversion? Will we provide just wages and benefits so all children and families can thrive and maximize their potential? Can we minimize events and circumstances where people are treated as a product or a commodity to be sold or traded or exploited?

SC Ministry Foundation promotes the mission and ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. As a public grantmaking organization, we have partnered with the Ohio Justice and Policy Center (OJPC) for over a decade. We congratulate and express our gratitude to OJPC, especially Sasha Appatova, for working with “Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Heather Russell to set up a special court to address the needs of human trafficking survivors, many who were forced into prostitution. Often, these survivors are required by their traffickers to commit crimes, including prostitution, thefts and drug offenses. The special court allows survivors who have been convicted of crimes their traffickers forced them to commit to get their convictions expunged from their records.” (2015 Annual Report of OJPC) The Women Victims of Violence project of OJPC helps survivors of human trafficking with criminal records and women who were incarcerated because of crimes against their abusers. OJPC is working to increase the number of courts that provide Safe Harbor Expungements for survivors.

In this Year of Mercy, may our actions and beliefs reflect Redemption. May we pray and continue our efforts to take victims of human trafficking and all victims down from their crosses.

Sister Sally Duffy S.C. is the Executive Director of the SC Ministry

Foundation and a member of the USCSAHT Board of Directors.