When she was 12, her father raped her and on weekends sold her to neighbors and acquaintances when they came over to play cards. When she was 14, her addicted brother sold her to a gang for drugs. When he was 15, he was kidnapped while walking home from school. He was sold but managed to escape before being shipped out of the United States. These are three people whose stories break my heart. Their pain is palpable. Their courage is undeniable as they reclaim their voices. These are three of the millions of people, millions of reasons Catholic Sisters have come together in their work against trafficking. The words of Saint Catherine of Siena are as vital today as they were in the 14th century, “Speak the truth in a million voices. It is silence that kills the world.”
October 11-13, fifteen core group members of US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT) met in Alexandria, Virginia to update and to strategize on our work. We reported on our progress in these areas: communications, educational resources, legislative advocacy and survivor support services.
We invited guest speakers. Rachel Harper from “Shared Hope International” gave a presentation on ending demand for children in sex trafficking. Dan Nejfelt from “Faith in Public Life” presented on two topics: the basics of effective messaging and the use of Twitter.
Ann Oestreich, IHM briefed the Core Group on an upcoming research project on Women Religious and Human Trafficking, which will be coordinated through the Center for Civil and Human Rights at the University of Notre Dame School of Law. It will focus on the work of women religious throughout the world in addressing human trafficking, with a particular focus on sisters in the US since
2001. Anne Victory, HM and Kathleen Coll, SSJ will join Ann and her research partner Christine Cervenak, to finalize the research design. All members of the Core Group will be contacted for input into the project.
You will find the most up-to-date information about the anti-trafficking work of USCSAHT on our website www.sistersagainsttrafficking.org , on our Facebook page here, and by following us on Twitter @USCSAHTraffic