IF YOU BELIEVE SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS BEING TRAFFICKED, it may be unsafe to attempt to rescue a trafficking victim. You have no way of knowing how the trafficker may react and retaliate against the victim and you. CALL FOR HELP!
Call 911 for urgent situations.
You may also want to alert the National Human Trafficking Hotline so that they can ensure response by law enforcement officials knowledgeable about human trafficking.
1-888-373-7888 (National Human Trafficking Hotline)
Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline, a national 24-hour, toll-free, multilingual anti-trafficking hotline to report a tip; connect with anti-trafficking services in your area; or request training and technical assistance, general information, or specific anti-trafficking resources. The Hotline is equipped to handle calls from all regions of the United States from a wide range of callers including, but not limited to: potential trafficking victims, community members, law enforcement, medical professionals, legal professionals, service providers, researchers, students, and policymakers.
Since February is Human Trafficking awareness month, the NCCW is featuring the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking in its monthly article under the title “Sharing our Special Stories of Service” submitted by committee member Ruth Warren.
Those of you who attended the NCCW 2017 Convention in Dallas, TX all received a brochure in your packets from the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT) entitled “Ending Slavery is Everyone’s Work”. Recently, I spoke with Sr. Ann Oestreich IHM who is on the Board for the USCSAHT and Sr. Jean Schafer SDS who is the Editor of the Stop Trafficking monthly newsletter. Did you know that Human Trafficking is the fastest growing criminal activity in the world with an industry of an estimated $150 billion per year.
Sr. Jean began working on the issue of Human Trafficking in 2001 after attending the International Union of Superiors General Symposium in Rome. Simultaneously, the US had enacted the Trafficking Victim Protection Act. It appeared that the US government and international agencies and religious were all interested in tackling this problem. This began the Sisters’ involvement on the issue worldwide and the devel- opment of the Stop Trafficking monthly newsletter; now in its 16th year. In 2003, the Sisters moved from Wisconsin to California, thinking that was where the trafficking was occurring and to collaborate with other agencies. In 2008, they established housing for victims. Law enforcement and other agencies discovered that trafficking wasn’t just a city issue but occurring everywhere. At the time in Southern California, the focus by law enforcement wasn’t the issue of trafficking of per- sons in the sex industry or forced labor but gangs and turf wars. For 6 years the Sisters provided housing, emotional support and friendship to more than 50 women and sometimes their children. All other services such as legal aid and financial assistance was provided by outside agencies. During that time, about 1⁄2 of the women guests were foreign nationals and 1⁄2 were American women. Sr. Jean believes the transition back to society was easier for the American born women be- cause they did not have the same struggles with language and documentation. Most moved when they were emotionally and financially ready to leave. The shortest stay was 3 hours and the longest was about 2 1⁄2 years.
Most of the foreign women guests were labor trafficked, coming as servants, maids and laborers. Three such women came from Africa with children ranging in ages from 8, 11 and teenagers. Two of the women had not seen their children in 2 years as they were living with relatives. One woman had not seen her child in 8 years. One woman, “Jane” and her 11 year old daughter (who is now a sophomore in college) still maintain contact with the Sisters. “Jane” is now a care- giver in a nursing facility, despite having a 5th grade education. “Jane” had come to the US with the Middle Eastern family which “employed” her as a maid (little to no wages were paid and she did not have her own documentation papers). “Jane” ran away from the family when they came to Southern California to vacation. When interviewed by police, she directed them to where the family was staying and 3 Filipino maids were rescued. The woman employer was arrested, the husband paid the $1 million bail and she went back to Saudi Arabia.
What can you do to help? Become aware of the work being done on this in Congress and in your state. For example, under California law, businesses over a certain dollar threshold must include a statement on what they are doing to improve their supply chain in their corpo- rate disclosures. There is currently a bill before Congress to make this a federal mandate.
Click here to learn how you can combat human trafficking. Learn about the indicators, how to contact your local and state representatives about initiatives to learning about where the goods and services you use may be produced.
Click here for information on how to recognize the signs of human trafficking.
Follow the Sisters Against Human Trafficking by visiting their website.