A Conversation on Anti-Human Trafficking

January 26, 2021

On 8 February, the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking takes place. In preparation for the event, the Global Sisters Report organized a webinar featuring Srs. Gabriella Bottani and Jean Schafer, both of whom are recognized as leaders in anti-trafficking efforts. They were joined by over 350 participants.

Sr Gabriella Bottani joined the webinar from Italy. As International Coordinator of the international network against trafficking in persons sponsored by the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), Talitha Kum, she brings a wealth of knowledge regarding the breadth of this pandemic on the international level. Sr Jean Schafer, board member of the Alliance to End Human Trafficking, sheds light regarding the plight of trafficked persons in the United States.

Key is exploitation

Sr Gabriella explained the international reality of this evil, which she described as complex and difficult to identify. Exploitation is one important issue she said needs to be considered. “It is the entry-door to identifying trafficking,” she said. While types of trafficking are nuanced throughout the world, “the dignity of the person is destroyed through exploitation and the limitation of freedom”, she emphasized.

Forms of trafficking

Some forms of human trafficking are domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, forced labor and begging. A common element, she said, is that women and minors are particularly vulnerable. The ratio is about 70% women to 30% men. One in every three trafficked persons is under 18 years-of-age. Thus, human traffickers primary targets are women and children. Trafficking takes place in every corner of the globe, whereas Southeast Asia and Africa have higher rates of trafficked persons. She also made the connection between ecological exploitation and human trafficking.

“Another element that we observe when we speak about human trafficking is the connection of exploitation of human beings and the exploitation of the environment. Often, they go hand in hand.”

United States reality

In the United States, trafficking exists in “every zip code”, Sr Jean Schafer said. The myth that there is an area in the US untouched by trafficking is false. It affects primarily people of color, citizens and immigrants. African Americans, for example, represent 13% of the overall population, but represent about 40% of those who are trafficked. Sr Jean said that higher sex trafficking areas are found in larger cities that attract large numbers of tourists. People are also becoming more aware of how much grooming of children is taking place online. “We thought it was something happening in Southeast Asia. But suddenly we find out our children are caught in the trap of vulnerability,” Sr Jean said. Many are learning about it and finding out how to counteract it.

To read the full story by Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp, on Vatican News: Click Here


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