Benedictine Sisters Fight To Combat Human Trafficking

October 3, 2018

Human trafficking in South Dakota is a more pressing issue than some may realize.

According to Sacred Heart Monastery Sisters Mary Jo Polak and Joelle Bauer, this is partially due to the interstate highway system and events such as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and other such predominantly male gatherings, that indirectly contribute to the trafficking issue.

“Brendan Johnson, the former U.S. attorney here in South Dakota, said that wherever you have a large gathering of men, you have a strong opportunity for prostitution and sex trafficking,” Polak said.

Polak and Bauer are members of the monastery’s Peace & Justice Education Committee, which tackles issues such as racism, immigration and gun violence.

Human trafficking recently became a big concern for the committee after Bauer attended a leadership conference in which trafficking people for sex and labor was the main focus. Since raising the issue back at the monastery, presentations and coordination with local agencies have been a priority with the Peace & Justice Education Committee.

The committee has organized two upcoming presentations about human trafficking. The first will be held at Mount Marty College on Oct. 4. The talk, “Labor Trafficking and the Importance of Fair Trade,” will be presented in Roncalli at noon by monastery residential volunteer Kimberly Mosqueda. The second presentation will be part of the monastery’s Theology Institute, called “Human Trafficking: A Christian Response.” It will be presented by S. Theresa Wolf from 9 a.m.-noon on Oct. 13.

The public is invited to attend both presentations, but are advised to register for the second one ahead of time by calling the monastery at 668-6000.

Both Bauer and Polak have heavily researched human trafficking and have discovered that it takes many forms.

While most people may automatically think of sex work when they hear “human trafficking,” labor is also a factor in the practice.

To read the fullest story by Reilly Biel on The Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan: Click Here

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