Human Trafficking Can Seem Too Big of a Problem

January is Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Labor and sex trafficking is a growing problem and is complicated by multiple factors. There is an article in this Global Sisters Report highlighting the impacts of COVID-19 on human trafficking. This has been a topic of conversation among those working to end human trafficking for several months. The pandemic is expected to increase global poverty levels and push an additional 88 to 115 million people into extreme poverty; 46 to 66 million of them will be children. Poverty and its associated complications are the driving factor behind human trafficking – both labor and sex trafficking. For just one example, when migrant workers lose work, they can no longer send remittance payments to their families back home. They are in a country with no legal protections and are more at risk for trafficking, most likely labor trafficking. Their family members back home who depend on those remittances will also be forced into trafficking situations, most likely sex trafficking.

The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Ohio Province, have long identified Human Trafficking as one of their social justice issues of particular concern. For years the Justice Peace and Care for Creation Office under three separate directors have had education about human trafficking and support for its victims as a focus of our work. Sr. Joan Krimm continues her support of victims from her room in the health center at 90 years old.

Sadly, many people think of this issue as one they can do little about. It is a global issue that has existed for decades. Whether it is the migrant worker ‘hired’ in the morning and not paid after the day’s work is complete or the children who are victims of ‘sex tourism’ in many countries whose governments do little to stop this atrocious practice, what can we really do? As it is for many social justice issues, the first step is to learn about it. These realities are hard to acknowledge. But until we do, we are contributing to the suffering of so many. Educate yourself. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking is a good place to start. Educate, advocate, support survivors and be a contentious consumer. Sign up for the monthly Stop Trafficking newsletter. Learn about Fair Trade practices and how, by their very nature, they help to curb human trafficking. The December edition of the Stop Trafficking newsletter has a good list of these and other organizations who are supporting trafficking victims. Locally, you can connect with women’s shelters. Most have an anti-trafficking plan and you may be able to help. And, I almost forgot . . . pray! February 8 is the feast day of St Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of victims of modern slavery and human trafficking. You can find prayer resources at the links above.

Stay engaged! Stay committed!

Teresa Phillips
Director of Office of Justice Peace and Care for Creation


Combating False Narratives about Human Trafficking
Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center
January 14, 6 - 8 p.m.

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U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking

Reflection and Prayer to End Human Trafficking