Though National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month has ended, Pope Francis, the FBI and the NFL continue to draw attention to this insidious societal problem. But every citizen, business and organization can do more to alleviate this global crisis throughout the year.
Human trafficking is estimated to be a $150 billion industry that profits from 25 million victims worldwide, according to the International Labour Organization. More than 100,000 children are sold for sex in the U.S. each year. Eighty-three percent of sex trafficking victims in the U.S. are U.S. citizens, according to the Polaris 2019 Report.
As a licensed counselor, researcher on domestic abuse and participant in domestic violence committees, including Illinois Religious Women Against Human Trafficking, I see the critical importance of awareness and prevention.
Pope Francis recently wrote in the preface of an autobiography of a trafficking victim:
“Since there are countless young women, victims of trafficking, who end up on the streets of our cities, how much does this reprehensible reality derive from the fact that many men, here, require these ‘services’ and show themselves willing to buy another person, annihilating her in her inalienable dignity?”
Supporting the pope’s vision through advocacy are Alliance to End Human Trafficking, among many others. They support human trafficking survivors through direct services such as providing shelter, counseling, spiritual support, job placement and educational scholarships.
The upcoming Super Bowl in Tampa will highlight the efforts of the NFL to grapple with human trafficking. Prominent athletes support the It’s A Penalty campaign that has played a role in eight major sporting events. Together with its partners, the organization has facilitated the rescue of almost 17,000 victims of trafficking and exploitation and prevented thousands more from becoming victims.Pope Francis, Superbowl