Reflections for Human Trafficking Month
FAIR TRADE – A RESPONSE TO HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Week 3 January 20
"A just trading system - in addition to breaking down barriers to promote growth - should enhance the life and dignity of everyone, lessen economic injustice, and help eradicate poverty." (US Bishops)
Fair trade is an approach to business/development that seeks to create greater equity in the international trading system. It supports farmers and craftspeople in developing countries who are socially and economically marginalized. Why shop Fair Trade? Many products that we use regularly (coffee, rice, chocolate, flowers, clothing, and consumer electronics) are produced by impoverished individuals (especially women and children) who are victims of forced labor and human trafficking. Products fair trade certified have been researched by independent, third party investigators to ensure that workers manufacturing them receive fair wages, conditions and rights.
Action: Contribute to this global movement for change by simply choosing to buy fair trade tea, coffee, chocolate and other products when you shop. Review the web site Fairtradeamerica.org. View your state’s list of Fair Trade stores, and encourage local businesses to ‘go fair trade.’ Invite a fair-trade speaker to meetings or events. Fundraise for organizations who help hardworking producers to work their way out of poverty.
Prayer: Loving God, speak to our hearts and minds. Show us the way to free the captives, provide dignity for all and save our earthly home. Provide us with the wisdom to care for each other as You care for all of us.
LABOR TRAFFICKING HERE AND NOW
Week 2: January 13
“How many people worldwide are victims of this type of slavery, in which the person is at the service of his or her work, while work should offer a service to people so they may have dignity. I ask my brothers and sisters in faith and all men and women of good will for a decisive choice to combat trafficking in persons, which includes ‘slave labor.’ “ (Pope Francis, Homily 5/1/13)
Labor Trafficking in the United States is a form of human trafficking where victims are made to perform a task through force, fraud or coercion. Often times people are victims of both labor and sex trafficking. Traffickers include recruiters, contractors, employers and others who make false promises of high-paying jobs, education or travel opportunities to lure their victims into horrendous working conditions. These conditions include physcial or psychological/mental control, confiscation of money or passports, and physcial abuse. People are trapped in labor trafficking in such industries as agriculture, construction, domestic work, and manufacturing. The US. Department of Labor identifies 148 goods from 76 countries made by forced and child labor. In the United States there are more than 7,800 labor trafficking cases. (Check out Typology of Modern Slavery)
Action: Be alert, be curious and be willing to call the Human Trafficking Hotline (888-373-7888).
Ask yourself, might this person be a victim? If you suspect someone is trafficked, you can make the confidential call that may save a life, and/or you can leave a small information card for help in a place for the laborer to find. Be curious about who might have made your clothes, what are the conditions by which your food was harvested, what wages does this laborer get and are they just, who gets the wages this person makes? Read up on various food products and the labor practices of food companies (e.g. chocolate producers, coffee producers, clothing manufacturing companies). You can join a group working with victims to assist in their healing and recovery.
Prayer: We come before you, God, unable to grasp the magnitude of slave labor and sex trafficking here and now. Enfold with your compassion those so victimized and rain down justice upon them and their traffickers, both in the greatest need of healing. May we accept Your Life within them and within us so that we might not only stand for the end of such horror but also stand with those harmed as companions and advocates. May healing, dignity and freedom for all be our way of loving and living!
Week 1: January 6th
“Each human being is a free person, and is destined to exist for the good of all. Any relationship that fails to respect this fundamental conviction constitutes a grave crime against humanity. There is now a compelling need to put an end to trafficking inhuman beings….” (Pope Francis, Easter 2013)
Human trafficking for the purpose of sex or labor places human beings into slavery each year, taking away any form of human dignity they may have. “Using people for profit” slowly degrades their sense of self-worth. Trafficking has become a 150 billion dollar industry around the world. We ask you to reflect on “how does this happen? Do I contribute to this in anyway? What can I do?"
Action: Get to know where trafficking is happening in your community. Be aware of unusual activity on your block. Are there homes where there are many people coming and going that are not familiar to you? Invite a speaker who is familiar with the issue to come and share their awareness with you.
Prayer: Gracious and loving Holy One, You breathe your breath of life into every person. This breath gives us the ability to look out at our world with a different set of “eyes,” the eyes of the soul and heart. May the cry of those who are suffering the indignity of being trafficked speak deeply to us and move us into action on their behalf. It is through our efforts that trafficked persons can know freedom once again. Amen