Nov. 21, 2014: We must all stand together to combat human trafficking, by Sister Margaret Nacke

November 21, 2014 by

Sister Margaret Nacke

Sister Margaret Nacke

Not long ago someone said to me, “Everything has a price — even people.”

The internet makes it relatively easy to buy “prey” from any part of the world, In fact, the world market for buying and selling people gives predators expanded opportunities and generates millions of dollars for a “seller’s” coffer.

Trafficking, or human slavery, has been described as the dark underbelly of globalization. It is the end result of rapid changes in societies around the world as well as the uprooting and displacement of people.

Trafficking is fueled by greed and, as one victim said, “eats out the souls of those who are used and discarded.”

Although law enforcement has no solid numbers on how many children are sold for sex in the United States, officials do know that the vast majority are sold through classified ads and websites. We can no longer think that the U.S remains untouched or is immune to trafficking, or that trafficking happens beyond our shores. It is invasive, shoreless and thrives on greed and demand.

This fall Cloud County Community College sponsored a conference on “Human Trafficking: 21st Century Slavery.” More than 250 people attended to hear speakers address an array of topics, including general data about trafficking, the medical challenges from the abuse of children and specific laws in Kansas that relate directly to those in the trafficking business. The conference provided a foundation for those who want to study the subject more thoroughly or who may have asked themselves, “What can I do?”

There are many answers to that question.

The first is to care enough to educate yourself. You do not necessarily have to attend workshops or conferences; you can seek out information at the library or on the internet to guide learning. A small group of friends could gather to study Kansas laws relating to the issue and invite a local police officer to speak.

Such a group might form a coalition to involve other facets of advocacy, such as encouraging local hotel and motel managers to sign the ECPAT (End Child Pornography and Trafficking) code of conduct. Or a group could study legislative action or explore how schools in the area are educating their students. (Since the average age of a child entering the sex trade is 12-14, junior high is not too early to start.)

Keep alert to situations in your area, or when you travel or are eating out, that may not seem “right.” Don’t hesitate to call 888-3737-888 (the National Human Trafficking Resource Center) or local enforcement.

Confronting this criminal activity demands that we stand shoulder to shoulder, that we partner with one another. Trafficking is slavery and tears at the social fabric of society. It is the great human rights issue of our time.

 

— Sister Margaret Nacke is a Sister of St. Joseph who lives in Belleville. She is one of the founders of U.S. Catholic Sisters United Against Human Trafficking and the Bakhita Initiative.

 

 

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