8 February 2019
It is estimated that there are approximately 21 million victims of human trafficking in the world today: women, men and children forced to work in slavery-like conditions against their will. Trafficking in the form of bonded labour occurs in the commercial sex trade, agriculture, mining and the textile, seafood and construction industries.
In 2015 Pope Francis declared 8 February as the feast of St Bakhita and the International Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action against Human Trafficking. Born in Sudan circa 1869, Josephine Bakhita was kidnapped by slave traders as a child and exploited for many years, until she eventually gained her freedom.
The Australian bishops, leaders of women’s congregations and ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans) recently echoed the pope’s call to pay attention to this pervasive issue.
Across the globe the Loreto Sisters have been actively engaged in advocacy in this area for many years, announcing their commitment to eradicating human trafficking in a solemn statement in 2014. As members of an international and multicultural congregation of women religious, we pledge to work for the eradication of all forms of human trafficking and its causes, particularly among women and children, wherever we live and minister. Sisters, students, staff, board members, associates and friends of Loreto have been encouraged to:
- Become better educated about the issues related to human trafficking;
- Raise awareness of the issue with those with whom they live and work;
- Engage in advocacy efforts (letters, media,phone calls);
- Examine purchasing practices to ensure that goods and services are slavery-free.
As well as observing St Bakhita’s feast with prayer, all members of the Loreto Network have been urged to take at least one small action to demonstrate their desire to end this grave abuse of human rights. Suggestions include checking that tea, coffee and chocolate used at work and home have been certified as “free trade”; using ethical clothing/fashion guides to ensure that textiles workers have been paid a “living wage”; or advocating that the supply chains of a particular product are investigated to see whether they are “slavery-free”.
Some helpful websites include:
Anne Kelly ibvm
Province representative on the IBVM/CJ Network to stop human trafficking