Pope Francis has declared February 8, 2015 as the first “International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking”. The day falls on the Feast Day of St. Josephine Bakhita, a freed slave who later became a nun and canonized in 2000.
Human Trafficking is one of the most lucrative world-wide illegal activities, profiting 32 billion dollars a year, third to the drug and fire arms trafficking “businesses”. In 2014, the International Labour Organisation claimed $150 billion were earned in illegal profits per year from forced labour. Often, the victims are very poor and vulnerable and are used for sexual exploitation, forced labour and begging, illegal organ removal, domestic servitude and forced marriages, illegal adoption and other forms of exploitation. An estimated 27-30 million women, men and children are enslaved today (US State Department 2013). And yes, human trafficking happens here in Australia.
The initiative, promoted by the Pontifical Council of Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General explains that “the primary objective…is to create greater awareness on this phenomenon and to reflect on the overall situation of violence and injustice that affect so many people… Another goal is to attempt to provide solutions to counter this modern form of slavery by taking concrete actions”.
The Australia Catholic Religious Against the Trafficking of Humans (ACRATH) have advocated for and worked with men, women and children who have experienced trafficking.
On this International Day, ACRATH is encouraging parishes, schools and communities to participate in prayer, reflection and action. Here is the list of suggested activities:
- learn more about the issue of human trafficking by visiting informative websites
- talk to family and friends about what you have learnt so that they too become aware
- donate to an Anti-trafficking organisation such as ACRATH in order to give assistance to men, women and children who have been trafficked into Australia
- become an anti-trafficking advocate by writing letters, signing petitions and participating in campaigns in an effort to bring about change
- some of the goods you purchase may be tainted by slavery during their production. Purchase good such as chocolate, coffee, tea, clothes and sporting equipment from ethical outlets or look for ethical symbols on the wrapper of these goods.
- as we approach Easter join in the Slavery Free Easter Chocolate campaign.
For further information visit the ACRATH website at www.acrath.org.au or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.