Search Results for: Human Trafficking

More than soap – it’s a lifeline

October 11, 2019

This blog reflection is part of a year-long series that explores the ways people within our Mercy family and beyond find a way every day to #MakeMercyReal for themselves and for others.

By Jennifer Milewski

Worldwide, an estimated 2 million trafficked children are forced into prostitution, including up to 300,000 of whom are spread throughout every state in the United States. Tragically, reputable hotels often serve as the setting for their exploitation.

Mercy Associate Lynn Anamasi learned of this harsh reality—and a way to take action—through a TED talk by trafficking survivor Theresa Flores. Theresa, in her own quest to “Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution” had started The SOAP Project. She remembered a night she spent as a teenager in a cheap motel forced into prostitution. The only time she was alone between clients was in the bathroom. With that memory, Flores determined to send today’s trafficked children a message to get help–on the wrapper of a bar of hotel soap.

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Más que jabón, es un salvavidas

October 11, 2019

Este blog es el Segundo segmento de una serie de un año que explora las maneras en que las personas de nuestra familia de la Misericordia y más allá encuentran a diario la manera de #EncarnarLaMisericordia para sí mismas y para los demás.

Por Jennifer Milewski

En todo el mundo, se estima que 2 millones de niños y niñas víctimas de la trata se ven obligados a ejercer la prostitución, de los cuales 300.000 están repartidos por todos los estados de Estados Unidos. Trágicamente, los hoteles de buena reputación a menudo sirven de escenario para su explotación.

Lynn Anamasi, Asociada de la Misericordia, se enteró de esta dura realidad —y de una manera de tomar acción— a través de una charla TED a cargo de la sobreviviente de la trata Theresa Flores. Theresa, en su propia búsqueda de «Salvar a Nuestros Adolescentes de la Prostitución» (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) había iniciado el Proyecto SOAP (la palabra soap significa «jabón» en inglés). Recordó una noche como adolescente que pasó en un motel barato forzada a prostituirse. El único momento en que estaba sola entre clientes era en el baño. Con ese recuerdo, Flores decidió enviar, a los niños y niñas víctimas de la trata de hoy, un mensaje en el envoltorio de una pastilla de jabón de hotel, para que reciban ayuda.

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Advent Week 3: Praying for Victims of Human Trafficking

December 14, 2017

By Sister Jeanne Christensen

The theme of our Advent 2017 blog series is “welcoming the stranger.” Please pray along with us! New reflections and art will be shared each Thursday throughout Advent. View the whole Advent 2017 blog series.

View and print this reflection as a PDF.

Contemplation

“I Am Not for Sale,” art by Sister Mary Daly

“I Am Not for Sale,” art by Sister Mary Daly

When I think of Advent, three words come to mind: anticipation, waiting and savior. I am waiting with anticipation for the Savior to come.

  • Anticipation—excitement about or looking forward to something (usually good) that’s going to happen.
  • Waiting—staying in a place until an expected event happens, until someone arrives, until it is your turn to do something; to remain in a state in which you expect or hope that something will happen soon.
  • Savior—person who saves someone or something from a danger or harm; a person who saves, rescues or delivers.

When I think of someone who is trafficked, I can also think of these three words, but the context is so radically different that I am stunned.

Emma is a trafficking victim, an exploited child. Here’s her story as she tells it.   Read More »

Who Is At Risk of Becoming a Human Trafficking Victim?

November 20, 2017

By Sister Jeanne Christensen

In 2014, I wrote about how I first became aware of the horror of human trafficking while working with a not-for-profit women’s group in Kansas City, Missouri. The director of the group had been a victim of domestic human trafficking, and many of the women we served were victims as well. Listening to their experiences moved me to devote my ministry to helping victims, advocating on their behalf and educating the public about this atrocity.

Changing Stereotypes

"We Are Not for Sale"

“We Are Not for Sale”—art by Sister Mary Daly

In the intervening years, much has changed. The stereotype of a human trafficking victim is changing—victims are not prostituted women only. They are younger and may be your neighbor’s child, your coworker’s grandchild or your child’s friend.

In response, I have spoken to hundreds of high school and university students explaining to them what human trafficking is, how they and their friends are at risk and what they can do to avoid being targeted, lured or chosen as a victim. While speaking to one university class, I explained how they might be approached while hanging out with friends at the mall, who might be targeted in their group and how best to respond.

Very quietly, a young woman raised her hand and said, “That happened to me.” When I asked how she responded, she grinned and said, “Sister, I won’t tell you what I said to him!” Her classmates laughed, but she drove my point home, loudly and clearly.

Younger Victims Targeted

The really sad thing is that many who are exploited are much younger than college-aged. In the vicious human trafficking world, especially in commercial sex trafficking, the younger the victim, the more they earn for their trafficker.   Read More »

The Evolution of Guyana’s First Safe House for Trafficking Victims

January 30, 2017

By Sister Judith Schmelz

Sister Judith Schmelz sits with the First Lady of Guyana, Sandra Granger

Sister Judith Schmelz, left, with Sandra Granger, the First Lady of Guyana.

The story begins in late 2012 when the Sisters of Mercy chose human trafficking as a major social issue to be addressed, and the Sisters of Mercy in Guyana began looking for ways that they could contribute to this effort.

Trafficking In Persons (TIP) is not readily observed; there was nothing in the daily newspapers; and at that time the administration of Guyana consistently denied to the public that there was a trafficking problem.

While we were trying to learn more about the issue, a large article appeared in the newspaper featuring Simona Broomes, founder and president of the Guyana Women Miners Organization (GWMO), and that organization’s focus on trafficking, especially in the Interior. The Interior—a heavily forested area—serves as the home to many gold mines and scattered villages of Amerindians, the indigenous people of Guyana. Maybe by chance, maybe through God’s intervention, we met Simona at the airport in Guyana—and the story took off from there!   Read More »

Bringing Hope to Children

June 29, 2015

By Pat Zerega, senior director of shareholder advocacy, Mercy Investment Services

A student at Hamro Ghar School, for children rescued from the carpet industry, creates inspiring artwork. Photo via GoodWeave on Facebook.

A student at Hamro Ghar School, for children rescued from the carpet industry, creates inspiring artwork. Photo via GoodWeave on Facebook.

Nearly a decade ago, a friend introduced me to the book The Carpet Boy’s Gift by Pegi Deitz Shea and Leane Morin.  It is a simple children’s book with a story of a boy being indentured to work in the carpet looms. Though I had heard stories about children working in the carpet industry, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Children ages four to 14 are kidnapped or sold and forced to work as many as 18 hours a day to weave rugs destined for export markets such as the United States and Europe. They are subject to malnutrition, impaired vision, deformities from sitting long hours in cramped loom sheds, respiratory diseases from inhaling wool fiber and wounds from using sharp tools. Those working as bonded laborers have no chance to earn their freedom and frequently earn little or no money. Carpet manufacturers say they like children in their factories because their fingers are considered ideal for the intricate motions required for weaving.   Read More »

The Many Forms of Modern-Day Slavery

February 24, 2015

By Pat Zerega, senior director of shareholder advocacy, Mercy Investment Services

As football fans gathered for Super Bowl XLIX, faith-based investors and other advocates concerned with human trafficking watched the festivities with a different mindset. Large-scale sporting events such as the Super Bowl, World Cup and Olympics have become a platform for those raising awareness of the growing human trafficking industry.

Polaris_Digi_Bulletin_R2

Ads like this one from the Polaris Project help trafficking victims know where help is available.

In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, law enforcement agencies in several states arrested 23 people on suspicion of sex trafficking and rescued 68 victims of trafficking, including 14 juveniles. For several years, members of the faith community have contacted hotels in the local area to encourage them to train their staff on how to spot trafficking victims and what to do if they believe someone is being trafficked. This expands beyond the Super Bowl and is a year-round effort. Investors continue to ask companies in the travel and tourism industry to provide education and training for staff, and investors have offered resources such as a hotel letter that consumers can use in their travels.   Read More »

Rosie’s Story: Surviving Human Trafficking

January 27, 2015

By Liz Dossa, West Midwest Communications

Rosie Garcia knew one day several years ago that the next morning she would be deported from the Chicago, Illinois, jail back to Mexico. “I had signed the papers for leaving,” she said. “If you don’t sign, they said, you will never see your baby again.”

Rosie was one of the immigrant detainees Sister JoAnn P. and Sister Pat M. visited in jail weekly, bringing each woman a few dollars for adding extra food to their meager diet and buying incidentals such as shampoo. They also drew out the women’s stories.

“When the sisters came to the jail, they asked too many questions,” said Rosie. “Where were you born? Who was your father? How did you get across the border?” Answering their questions reminded Rosie of the horror of her life in El Paso, Texas, and she cried constantly.

The questions forced Rosie to remember how her mother had paid $1,000 to “Lena” to smuggle Rosie from Mexico to El Paso. “Lena” brought her to a hotel where Rosie was a prisoner forced to have sex with, as Rosie said, “not just one man, but lots of men. They beat me, kicked me. It was dirty and terrible. If I didn’t, they said they would kill my mother.” She was 13 years old.   Read More »

The Best Kept Secret of Panama

July 30, 2014

By Sister Dina A.

A desperate mother searches for her teenage daughter who was trafficked into a brothel. Photo Credit: Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department.

A desperate mother searches for her teenage daughter who was trafficked into a brothel. Photo Credit: Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department.

In considering the issue of human trafficking, it seems that in Panama this scourge has been very well hidden—or simply, it is so regular and normal, that it has become very common and no one is surprised.

In the golden years of the construction of the inter-oceanic railroad in 1855 and the Panama Canal in 1914, prostitution was exercised with the consent and total impunity of the authorities. Corruption flowed over to judges, police and the local mafia since they received money from this illicit act. The military presence of the United States Southern Command in Panama, which started in 1963 and continues today, ensured that all U.S. military levels have “entertainment” in the military bases, bars, brothels and prostitution houses. Furthermore, with Panama being such a strategic global connection point for immigration, arms trafficking, mafia, drugs and money laundering, it is no wonder it is likewise a strategic point for human trafficking.  Read More »

10 Ways to Help End the Horror of Human Trafficking

July 29, 2014

By Sister Jeanne C.

A self-portrait by a 15-year-old sex trafficking victim. She escaped and now lives in a Catholic shelter for rescued girls. She dreams of becoming a social worker. Photo Credit: Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department.

A self-portrait by a 15-year-old sex trafficking victim who now dreams of becoming a social worker. Photo Credit: Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department.

I first became aware of the horror of human trafficking while working with a not-for-profit women’s group in Kansas City, Missouri. The director of the group had been a victim of domestic human trafficking, and many of the women we served were victims as well. Listening to the horrors of their experience moved me to devote my ministry to helping the victims, advocating on their behalf and educating the public about this atrocity.   Read More »