Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Prayer Service for Feb 8 Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking

Our sisters and brothers in the Talitha Kum Network, of which we are also a part, have created an excellent prayer resource for the World Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking which is February 8.  The theme of their prayer service is “They are kids, not slaves!”  

We invite you to use this prayer service in your communities and families.  As the JPIC Office, we share with you below a shorter version of this prayer service, adapted from the resource created by Talitha Kum, 2017.

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Original Version in English: 

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Environment: Decorate a center table with colorful or black cloth.  Place 9 lit candles on top, with an additional, larger candle (unlit), in the middle.  Place an image of St. Josephine Bakhita on the table with the candles. 

Introduction: “Dear brothers and sisters, today, 8 February, the liturgical memorial of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese Sister, who as a child had the traumatic experience of being a victim of trafficking, the International Union of Superiors General of Religious Institutes have promoted the Day of Prayer and Reflection against trafficking in persons. I encourage all those who are committed to helping men, women and children enslaved, exploited, abused as tools of pleasure and often tortured and mutilated. I hope that those who have responsibilities in government will seriously strive to eliminate the causes of this shameful scourge, a scourge unworthy of a civilized society. Let each of us be committed to being a voice for our brothers and sisters, humiliated and deprived of their dignity. Let us all pray together.” (Pope Francis)

Opening Song. Choose a well-known song that fits with the theme of the prayer service for all to sign along.

LEADER: After each of the following statistics is shared, extinguish the light from one of the candles.

• Worldwide there are 168 million children in child labor. More than half of them, 85 million, are in hazardous work. (ILO)
• 20 million child workers are employed in factories that make garments, carpets, toys, matches and hand-rolled cigarettes. Agriculture remains by far the most important sector where child laborers’ can be found (98 million, or 59%), but the problems are not negligible in services (54 million) and industry (12 million) – mostly in the informal economy. Most children work in farms that produce consumer products such as cocoa, coffee, cotton, rubber and other crops. (ILO)
• Asia and the Pacific still have the largest numbers (almost 78 million or 9.3% of child population), but Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region with the highest incidence of child labor (59 million, over 21% of child population). (ILO)
• There are 13 million children in child labor in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the Middle East and North Africa there are 9.2 million. (ILO)
• Every year, 22,000 children die in work-related accidents. 9% are in industry, including mining and quarrying, manufacturing and construction. (ILO)
• The number of children involved in armed conflicts has increased to about 300,000 over the past decade. 14 is the average age of a child soldier. 40 % of child soldiers are girls. (ILO)
• 2 million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade (UNICEF)
• Millions more children are likely exploited in prostitution or pornography each year around the world, most of the time lured or forced into these situations through false promises and limited knowledge about the risks.(UNICEF)
• About 1 in 10 girls under the age of 20 have been subjected to forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point of their lives. (UNICEF)

SILENCE: Take a few minutes in quiet reflection.

The third edition of the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against trafficking in persons highlights the sufferings and the hope of trafficked children and adolescents. According to the last official statistics of the United Nation, one in three victims of trafficking are children. The number of trafficked people who are less than 18 years old is constantly increasing, worldwide. Children and adolescents are trafficked for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced marriage, illegal adoptions, forced labour, organs removal, begging, criminal acts (like child soldiers, drag smuggling) and witchcraft. It is urgent to listen to the cry of these little ones, to everybody, every family and every community, who experience the violence of exploitation and slavery, who is injured and humiliated.


LEADER: Let us light the large candle in the middle now, and as we light it let us say together:

EVERYONE: We want to become a sign of hope to all trafficked children and their families. We announce: “They are Kids! Not slaves!”

SONG: choose a song for reflection

EVERYONE: We want to become a sign of hope to all trafficked children and their families. We announce: “They are Kids! Not slaves!”


LEADER: We have to recognize that many efforts are being made to end these crimes against children. Many people are making a difference in the world.  We will now hear these stories of hope, and with each one, light two candles. 

Reader 1: Several Congregations of Women Religious and Church Organizations such as Caritas offer protection and shelter for children and adolescents who are survivors of trafficking. They are rescued from any kind of exploitation and trafficking. The shelters offer psychological, health and educational care. They allow the children to build up their own future! Many of these children, after a holistic health care time, are able to return to their own original family.

Everyone: Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Reader 2: In the last 10 years many organizations have been promoting prevention activities to reduce the vulnerability and consequently the risk of people to be trafficked: Educational programs, scholarships for poor children in rural areas, income generations programs (not user what income generations means), health care. Prevention has become a key word to promote a real change in the society, giving opportunities and alternatives to children and their family.

Everyone: Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Reader 3: Worldwide non-profitable organizations, faith based and grassroots organizations, governments, social movements and businesses strengthen collaboration and networking at local, regional and international level in order to eradicate trafficking in persons.

Everyone: Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Reader 4: The integrated commitment of many organizations and the social polices of many governments help to reduce the number of child labor. The Global number of children in child labor has declined by one third since 2000. The change is possible!

Everyone: Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

LEADER: We want to continue to spark the light of hope in our work to end human trafficking and support survivors.  Let us conclude by prayer the closing prayer together:

CLOSING PRAYER: O God, when we hear of children and adults being deceived and taken to unknown places for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor, and organ ‘harvesting’, our hearts are saddened and our spirits angry that their dignity and rights are ignored through threats, lies, and force. We cry out against the evil practice of this modern slavery, and pray with St. Bakhita for it to end. Give us wisdom and courage to reach out and stand with those whose bodies, hearts and spirits have been so wounded, so that together we may make real your promises to fill these sisters and brothers with a love that is tender and good. Send the exploiters away empty-handed to be converted from this wickedness, and help us all to claim the freedom that is your gift to your children. Amen

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