Human trafficking in the US: Sisters' networks and ministries break the cycle one life at a time
The numbers are hard to pin down but Polaris Project, a leading human trafficking advocacy group, estimates that 100,000 children are sold into sex slavery each year. And that’s just in the United States. The International Labor Union estimates that, globally, there are about 20.9 million sex and labor trafficking victims — 5.5 million of them children, and more than half of them female.
Today, from coast to coast, Catholic sisters in the U.S. do everything from staffing safe houses for survivors to teaching seminars on how to spot and report trafficking. Forty congregations of women religious belong to U.S Sisters Against Human Trafficking, a national network that provides education about trafficking, helps trafficking survivors get access to rehabilitative services and advocates for the policies and legislation that make human trafficking more difficult. But it wasn’t always that way. It actually took a long time for human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking, to become a mainstream social justice cause that anyone talked about.
In 2001, just a year after both the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and a new United Nations protocol brought human trafficking to the forefront of social justice issues, the International Union of Superiors General approved a declaration committing Catholic sisters around the world to solidarity in addressing human trafficking at “every level.” In 2009, the group created Talitha Kum, a global anti-trafficking network of women religious. Three years after that, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious adopted a resolution to end human trafficking, citing the fact that many of the conference’s member congregations were already involved in anti-trafficking ministries.
Read more about the work of US Sisters to combat human trafficking HERE