This month of January is National Human Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The scope of this violation of basic human rights is staggering. It is the fastest growing criminal enterprise of the 21st century, an estimated $150 billion industry that is second only to drugs in terms of organized crime.
This modern slavery cuts across all countries, cultures, religions and ages. Immigrants and refugees are particularly vulnerable, and poverty drives persons to actions out of desperation. Where the human person is seen only as a commodity to be used, abused, and then discarded, trafficking thrives.
Leaders of many faiths have made a joint declaration to “inspire spiritual and practical action by all global faiths and people of good will everywhere to eradicate modern slavery across the world by 2020 and for all time. In the eyes of God, each human being is a free person… destined to exist for the good of all in equality and fraternity.”
Pope Francis is unequivocally clear: “Any discriminatory relationship that does not respect the fundamental conviction that others are equal is a crime, and frequently an aberrant crime… Our communities of faith are called to reject, without exception, any systematic deprivation of individual freedom for the purposes of personal or commercial exploitation.”
This is a clarion call to each of us to learn the signs of human trafficking, be a responsible consumer, advocate for stronger laws, and call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 if you sense something is wrong.
Realize. Recognize. Respond.