As high-profile sports figures descend on Northeast Ohio this week, an 83-year-old nun arrived at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Monday advocating for victims who walk among us hidden in plain sight.
Sister Barbara Catalano, a Dominican Sister of Peace, did not resemble many other visitors clad in shirts and jerseys of their favorite NFL teams. The diminutive woman was dressed casually in white pants and a shirt accented with a purple short-sleeved jacket. She also wore a look of determination, toting a satchel containing anti-human trafficking literature and a bag filled with bars of specially wrapped soap to the Canton football shrine.
“I want to talk with someone important,” said the Akron resident, who had not called ahead to make an appointment with a Hall of Fame executive.
Parked in an auxiliary lot a quarter-mile from the front door, Catalano eschewed a free shuttle ride and walked along a narrow backstreet as cars and golf carts transporting HOF workers zipped past. The nun moved with such pace, bounding down a steep flight of concrete steps, a freelance photographer assigned to chronicle her visit had difficulty keeping up.
She was eager to discuss the evils of the world’s fastest-growing industry. Human trafficking, according to the United Nations’ International Labour Organization, generated about $99 billion in profits in 2016. And it thrives on the peripheries of major multiday events like the ones being hosted in Canton and Akron this weekend, say some anti-trafficking advocacy groups and law enforcement.
From foreign-born laborers erecting scaffolding for pennies on the dollar to underage girls being forced into prostitution at nearby hotels, human trafficking takes different forms. In the past month, several survivors have told The Athletic nightmarish tales of beatings, gang rape, threats to family members and years of mental anguish associated with a life of sex slavery. Two women began being trafficked at age 15.
To read the full story by Tom Reed on The Athletic Ink: Click HereTags: Dominican Sisters of Peace, Football, Hall of Fame, ILO, NFL