From My Ministry World - Human Trafficking Awareness Month

For the past 4 years or so, education and advocacy against human trafficking has been a major part of my ministry.  Longer than that actually, because it started with one of my novitiate ministry experiences where I was privileged to get to know two women who were emerging from human trafficking situations.  The resiliency of their spirit in the face of such suffering continues to inspire me in this work.  Here's a press release we sent out today as part of a PR push around Human Trafficking Awareness Month.  Writing press releases is another transferable skill I learned as a glorified bureaucrat that I now use in the service of justice!

Nuns Organize Against Human Trafficking

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, January 5, 2012—Catholic Sisters in the Pacific Northwest are intensifying efforts against human trafficking during January’s National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, through public witness, schools based education and corporate shareholder advocacy. January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

“We know that the Pacific Northwest is a hub for human trafficking,” said Holy Names Sister Linda Haydock, Executive Director of the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center (IPJC) in Seattle which is coordinating the effort. “This form of modern slavery is illegal in every country, and yet is thriving not only in far flung corners of the globe but right here in Seattle. We seek to stop the demand for human trafficking.”

Public Witness - Sisters and other advocates will gather at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle on Sunday, January 8th from 1:30 to 2:00 PM for a Public Vigil against human trafficking. “This is our 37th monthly public vigil,” said Saint Joseph of Peace Sister Susan Francois, Anti-Human Trafficking coordinator at IPJC. The Sisters began holding monthly vigils at Westlake Park in January 2009. “Westlake Park is a known recruitment spot for traffickers seeking to exploit young women in the sex industry. We come here each month to take a public stand in solidarity with all children, women and men held in slavery like conditions. We invite others to stand with us.”

President Obama has declared January National Human Trafficking Awareness month and called upon all Americans to “recognize the vital role we can play in ending modern slavery.”

Education - IPJC uses a variety of vehicles to engage the larger community. The Sisters have run advertisements on buses in Seattle and Tacoma, educate middle school students across the country via an online webinar, and provide resources for action on their website—www.ipjc.org. “In the last six months alone, more than 10,000 copies of our anti-human trafficking resources have been downloaded from our website,” said Sister Linda. Online resources are available in English and Spanish, including action ideas, education handouts, and prayer services. The website also offers a special prayer service that Christian and Interfaith groups can use to mark Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11th.

Corporate Advocacy - “We also engage in dialogue with major corporations to help stop the demand for human trafficking,” said Adrian Dominican Sister Judy Byron, Program Director of IPJC’s Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment. Collaborating with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the Sisters recently won significant victories against human trafficking through shareholder resolutions and corporate dialogue with Delta Airlines, Hilton Worldwide, and Wyndham Worldwide. In 2011, the airline and two hotel chains each agreed to sign the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism. The Code requires signatories to educate their employees on ways of identifying and reporting suspected incidents of human trafficking. Delta Airlines is the first U.S. carrier to sign the Code.

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