Why is this a public position for us?
Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain. As difficult as it may be to imagine, the enslavement of women and children for both labor and sexual exploitation is real and growing.
Human trafficking is a hidden crime, as victims (usually women and children) rarely come forward to seek help because of language barriers, fear of the traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement. It is estimated that human trafficking is a $32 billion per year industry, second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable form of transnational crime.
Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. They look for people who are vulnerable for a variety of reasons, including economic hardship, natural disasters, or political instability. The trauma can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.
In 2011, at least 12.3 million people were being trafficked in 161 countries, including the United States. It is a $32 billion industry. More than 150 million children younger than 14 years of age are child laborers working in mines or on farms, toiling as domestic servants in homes or workshops. Another 300,000 children under 18 are child soldiers used as combatants, messengers, porters, cooks, or sexual servants in some 30 conflicts worldwide.
Each year more than two million children, some as young as five years old, are exploited in the global commercial sex trade and women are sold into prostitution throughout the world. The Dominican Sisters of Peace support the strengthening of laws to reduce the incidences of human trafficking, and further support expanding resources, such as safe houses, to support survivors of this modern day form of slavery. Justice Promoter Sr. Judy Morris said, “The congregation will continue its efforts to raise awareness of the epidemic of human trafficking through group presentations and letter writing to local representatives, hotel managers, and airline representatives. We will also work to raise awareness and educate communities prior to large sporting events, as these gatherings draw large number of traffickers.”
Actions we have taken:
In a public statement of support, the congregation pledged in a public position that “We, the Dominican Sisters of Peace, proclaim our mission to be a prophetic voice in solidarity with the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed. We, along with our Dominican Associates, commit our support to efforts to end human trafficking.” (2013) Our public position on this issue is a collective effort, born of study and reflection, to focus our attention on some of the more urgent and compelling needs of our world. A public position requires that the members vote on the issue after careful study and prayer and make a special commitment of action, advocacy and resources to respond to the issue. Dominican Sisters of Peace and their Associates are actively:
- seeking to collaborate with other religious or civil groups in support of a safe house for victims of human trafficking.
- educating ourselves and others through prayer and study about the evil of trafficking and modern slavery.
- supporting state and federal anti-trafficking legislation. On average, only one person is convicted for every 800 trafficking cases that are tried worldwide.
- volunteering with local service providers who minister to victims of human trafficking.
- dialoguing with companies to encourage them to sign “The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Women and Children.”
- using our strength as consumers and investors by insisting on slave-free supply chains and support those companies who engage in good practices.
- The National Human Trafficking Resource Center Polaris Project, PO Box 53315, Washington, DC 20009 Hotline and Resource Center: 1.888.373.7888 Washington, DC; 2010 June
- Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: How to Identify America’s Trafficked Youth (video)
- Gracehavenhouse.org – Theresa Flores LSW, MSD, (Human Trafficking survivor and author)
- Very Young Girls (video)
- USCCB United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development
- Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
- Engaging Catholic Communities in Ending Sexual Exploitation – Catholic Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation
- Industry-wide Code of Conduct
- Partnership Against the Trafficking of Humans