We Are Not Powerless

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
—Genesis 1:27

One of the most troubling of those open wounds (in the world) is the trade in human beings, a modern form of slavery. It violates the God-given dignity of so many of our brothers and sisters and constitutes a true crime against humanity.
—Pope Francis

January is Human Trafficking Month. Let us take a moment to become aware of this injustice so that we can take steps to preserve human dignity.

What is human trafficking? Human trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings for exploitation and commercial gain, including labor trafficking and sex trafficking.

Who does it affect? Over 20 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking, 5 million of whom are children. 60,000 people in the United States (including 17,000 children) are trafficked in the United States.

Isn’t human trafficking illegal? The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, was adopted by United Nations General Assembly and entered into force on 25 December 2003. It is the first global legally binding instrument with an agreed definition on trafficking in persons. In addition, the Convention on the Rights of the Child sets international standards protecting children from exploitation. In the United States, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 is the cornerstone of Federal human trafficking legislation, and established several methods of prosecuting traffickers, preventing human trafficking, and protecting victims and survivors of trafficking. It was reauthorized in 2013.

What can I do? We are not powerless. Here are some suggested actions:

  • Learn how to identify signs of human trafficking.
  • Be aware of how human traffickers target and recruit school-aged children.
  • If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Resource center at 1 (888) 373-7888.
  • Be an informed and conscientious consumer by checking your slavery footprint. Make choices as a consumer that respect human dignity.
  • Join the Polaris Project.
  • Pray: Heavenly Father, your servant St. Josephine Bakhita suffered the injustice of slavery. Through her prayers, may we work together to eradicate this scourge. We pray that you liberate all men, women, and children who are exploited, enslaved, and abandoned. May the perpetrators turn from their unjust ways. Amen.



One thought on “We Are Not Powerless”

  1. Human beings were not meant to be treated as objects..as commodities. They were meant for love. As Franciscans, we are called to continual conversion and need to reflect on the way we treat one another. St. Josephine Bakhita, pray for us.


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