“Therefore, we declare on each and every one of our creeds that modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labor and prostitution, and organ trafficking, is a crime against humanity. Its victims are from all walks of life, but are most frequently among the poorest and most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters..” (Pope Francis — Declaration on International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, Dec. 2, 2014)
Modern slavery, also known as human trafficking is ‘the illegal trade in people for exploitation or commercial gain.’ It is the second largest criminal activity today, second only to the illegal drug trade, and it is growing. An estimated 20.9 million people worldwide are trafficked at any given time according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). Poverty and lack of opportunity are significant contributors but also social exclusion, gender discrimination, political conflicts and environmental displacement. Incidents have increased worldwide due to root causes combined with high demand in developing countries.
The two primary forms of trafficking are labor and sex. Women and girls made up 70% of detected human trafficking victims between 2010-2012. (UNICEF) In 2014 in the U.S., an estimated 1 out of 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were child sex trafficking victims.
Labor trafficking is an estimated $150 billion dollar industry worldwide. Traffickers use violence, threats, deception, and other manipulative tactics to force people to provide labor or services against their will. Common industries that hire victims include agriculture, food processing, construction, manufacturing and domestic work.
In our trafficking work we partner with several coalitions including Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), and Catholic Campaign Against Human Trafficking (CCAOHT) These groups serve as a resource and space to engage more deeply on the issue and work with governments and civil society to help end trafficking.
The Oblate JPIC Office engages with corporations through the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) to create awareness of the problem and press for policies to prevent it. ICCR’s efforts on human trafficking range from a focus on child sex trafficking to campaigns to stop forced labor in corporate supply chains. ICCR members ask the companies they hold shares in to adopt human rights policies that formally recognize human trafficking and slavery and to train their personnel and their suppliers to safeguard against these risks throughout their supply chains.
We are committed to educating our network and the general public on this issue. Each year leading up to February 8, the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita who was trafficked as a child, we join other groups to promote and observe the National Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Human Trafficking. We also provide resources and action alerts on human trafficking during Lent and at various other times throughout the year.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Anti-Trafficking Program (ATP) provides extensive advocacy and education materials on sex and labor trafficking.
Visit Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) website to read stories from their work overseas serving victims of slavery and human trafficking.
Visit this website to learn more about the work of the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking.
Visit the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking website to learn more about the issue.
Visit this link for a very comprehensive list of Human Trafficking signs.
Report suspicious activity to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888 or to your local law enforcement.