HUMAN TRAFFICKING AWARENESS DAY
In the past three years, I’ve had the opportunity to chair a standing Justice Committee for my Dominican Sisters of Peace Congregation (Columbus, OH). The specific title of the group is the Committee on Human Trafficking. We have some fifteen members who participate mainly by monthly conference call from their various residences and ministry sites – from upstate New York and Central Jersey to Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio and Western Kansas. Members are involved in various ways as we struggle to address the contemporary evil of Human Trafficking in our own homeland. Our primary goal has been to educate ourselves, the Dominican Sisters of Peace, about this reality – the enslavement of women and children for forced labor and sex. There are many resources available to us now for self-education. Additionally, we determined several activities that could assist in raising public awareness about human trafficking: contacting the various airlines to train employees to recognize situations where persons are being trafficked. A number of the airlines have complied and now do regular training of workers at check-in counters and aboard the aircraft. This is becoming more successful with time. The employees have the Hotline telephone number to report suspected situations. (# 888-373-7888). A number of Religious Congregations of Sisters and major Justice organizations are also involved in working with Hotel chains to get them to recognize ‘traffickers’ who arrive with individuals in their control. Workshops have been offered to train housekeeping personnel to be aware and to get a supply of SOAP (w/ a Hotline phone number on the back) into the hotel rooms to assist victims. This endeavor is also going well, if slowly. There is also a movement to assist restaurant personnel to recognize situations where persons are being trafficked. All of this calls us to remember that these are our own brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ who are experiencing this violation of their persons. The situation begs for our awareness and assistance wherever possible. My own involvement has been more remote, but I have an 83 year old friend in the Pittsburgh area who regularly attends meetings with the PA State Police and the FBI, and who recently gave a workshop to Hotel housekeepers to alert them to their role in this contemporary crime in our cities. It’s time to awake from our slumber & privilege.