January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, created over a decade ago to raise awareness about human trafficking, particularly how this crime can be prevented.
Calculated as a $150 billion industry, human trafficking has become the fastest growing source of illicit profit for criminals worldwide. Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery and occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud, or coercion to control another person for the purpose of soliciting labor or services against his/her will. There are an estimated 40.3 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. The elimination of human trafficking is a priority issue for the Catholic Church as every life is a gift from God and is sacred, it deserves to be protected and nurtured.
The Coalition of Catholic Organizations against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT), convened by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Migration and Refugee Services, consists of over 35 national and international agencies working to end human trafficking and support survivors. Together, CCOAHT members advocate for stronger state and federal legislation, promote trauma-informed and survivor-centered services for victims, raise public consciousness, and press the private sector and consumers to prioritize slave-free supply chains.
Resources and Online Education
- A prevention month tool kit has excellent ways for you to work to end human trafficking in your community and with your parish.
- Assist CourageLIVES, Maine's first residential program for women over the age of 18 who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and need a safe secure place to heal, receive treatment, and start to rebuild their lives.
- Assist Stop Trafficking US. Based in Standish, the organization was established to stop the sexual abuse and exploitation of children in Maine. You can also visit the organization’s Facebook page.
- Join in the Become a SHEPHERD program and incorporate anti-trafficking into your ministries and activities.
- Visit the human trafficking section of the Justice for Immigrants website.
- A prayer to end human trafficking: https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/prayer-to-end-trafficking.
Dates to Remember
Monday, January 11, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, a commemoration that seeks to increase understanding among Americans that human trafficking happens in states and communities across the United States.
Monday, February 8, is the Feast Day of St. Josephine Bakhita. Born in the Darfur region of Sudan in 1869, St. Bakhita was kidnapped and enslaved as a child. Eventually she was sold to an Italian diplomat and taken to Italy, where she valiantly asserted her freedom with the help of the Cannossian Sisters of Venice. Through her faith, St. Bakhita realized the promise of liberty inherent in the human spirit. She lived out the rest of her life as a Cannossian sister, sharing her empowering testimony of human freedom and dignity. The Catholic Church has designated her feast as the World Day of Prayer, Reflection, and Action against Human Trafficking.
With encouragement from Pope Francis, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General encourage all to remember and pray for survivors and victims of modern-day slavery, praying that we may “work together to remove the causes of this disgraceful scourge that is present in all our cities and neighborhoods.”