Twists and Turns

My heart has been on quite a journey today. Things have slowed down to a manageable pace at work, so I'm finally catching up on a few projects. One of those projects was to review some new materials we've collected for our lending library on the topic of human trafficking. I watched two videos by Shared Hope International. One was a documentary on Demand called simply, DEMAND. The line I remember best and I'll paraphrase here - "There are lots of good things we can and should do to end human trafficking. But sex trafficking would stop if one thing happened, and that's if men stopped buying sex." The more I learn about the crime of human trafficking, the more I'm convinced that we need to stop the demand. That's the only way we're going to end modern day slavery once and for all. And for that, we have to wake up to the reality and talk about it.

I then watched a shorter training video on domestic minor sex trafficking that was absolutely heart breaking. Both videos are well made but heavy, just as the topic is heavy. There's a condensed version of DEMAND which is shorter and less graphic but just as powerful. You can both on the Shared Hope website.

After work I went to the opening of a new house at the Jubilee Women's Center. Jubilee was started 25 years ago by 3 Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. Jubilee provides safe, affordable and long-term transitional housing for women in Seattle. Jubilee also provides case management, life skills and technology training. Referrals come to Jubilee from homeless shelters, domestic violence programs, social service agencies, hospitals, churches, and the Community Crisis Line. Many of the women have been victims of domestic violence. Odds are, some have been victims of trafficking over the course of their life. They are all working and rebuilding their lives---Jubilee gives them a safe base from which to do this. The new house they've opened has seven additional rooms. It was built with the help of some everyday folks who wanted to help these women as they build their lives anew. I'm glad I went to the opening, both to support Jubilee which is one of our sponsored ministries, and to thank all of the people who had a hand in the creation of this new house.

I also spent the day in part (in my heart at least) with a friend who lost her job and another friend who lost her cat to a long illness. As I said at the beginning of this post, my heart was on a journey today.

When I came home tonight, it was still daylight outside. The flowers are still blooming here at St. Mary-on-the-lake, and I'm beginning to feel like I live in the midst of a botanical garden. I decided to take advantage of my surroundings and walked the labryinth. On my journey through the twists and turns of this walking meditation, I held the stories of the women in the videos, the stories of the women at Jubilee, the stories of the men and women working to help women and men live lives of hope and freedom, the stories of my friends who have lost jobs or loved ones or beloved animals. I breathed in the pain and sorrow, I breathed out hope and love.

Life has its twists and turns to be sure. But what a gift that we have each other on the journey. What a gift that our hearts are heavy with sorrow, inspiring us to work for justice, inspiring us to reach out and be the face of God for each other. We twist and turn together on this journey called life. Really, I think, that's what it means to be Church. The Body of Christ. Together.

Those are my deep thoughts for this heart filled day.



Ave said...

First of all, thank you for sharing your heart. You have written about human trafficing a number of times, but your own feelings inflect the issue with an urgency.

Secondly, what are your thought about how we could go about stopping the demand? Would this be educational, or legal?

Corky said...

Very lovely and meaningful reflections,Susan. Thank you!

Susan Rose Francois, CSJP said...

Corky ... thanks! Hope all is well in DC with our fearless leaders.

Ave ... I've been asked this a lot lately and will probably work it into a future blog post, but for now ...

EDUCATE! People do not know the HUGE reality of human trafficking, not only globally but in our back yards. Under federal law, any minor caught up in prostitution is a victim not a criminal. Children cannot consent to sex with adults, especially not when force and coercion and violence are at play. But we as a society need to wake up to this reality and act. The first step is education.

If you have men or boys in your life, have the honest conversations about women and the inherent dignity of all life. This is a life issue, which is how the Catholic Church approaches it.

Human Trafficking is not just sex trafficking, but forced labor as well. Buying Fair Trade is the only way you can be sure a product is not made by slave labor.

So the first step is education, the second is advocacy.

Slavery is illegal in every country, yet it is prevalent in every country. Including ours.

Ask your legislators to enforce the laws we have. Ask your police departments to train their officers about human trafficking. Ask your health providers to train their staff, as emergency rooms and doctors visits are often the only outside contacts traffickers allow their victims. (They need to keep their product healthy).

And pray. I firmly believe that prayer is key. Both to instill the desire, passion and commitment in our hearts to work for an end to trafficking, and as part of the whole mystery of life, Church, God etc...

Ask your parish to include prayers for trafficking victims and for an end to trafficing in their prayers of the faithful.

Like I said ... I could (and will) make this a blog post of its own. But those are some thoughts for you!