To the editor:
Human trafficking, sex trafficking, labor trafficking and modern-day slavery are the different ways we have of describing the horrific activities of offenders who prey on vulnerable people, especially children and young women. Much effort has been given in recent years to draw attention to and to educate all segments of society about this critical social issue. The month of January was designated National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness month. We cannot stop at one month; we need to keep learning more in our effort to eradicate this modern-day slavery.
Feb. 8 was the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese girl who was enslaved at the age of 7 and named Bakhita, “Fortunate One,” by her captor. Over a period of six years she was sold several times and was subjected to unfortunate circumstances of physical and moral humiliations of slavery. Finally, she was sold to an Italian merchant who bought Bakhita to be a slave-servant for his daughter. Eventually, Bakhita was able to resist her slave-servant situation and, with assistance, took her case to court. The court ruled that, because slavery was illegal in Italy, she had in fact been free since her arrival in Italy.
Bakhita entered the Canossian Sisters and was encouraged by them to dictate her story and to speak publicly about her experience of slavery. She died in 1947 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000. The Vatican declared Feb. 8 as an international day for prayer and reflection on human trafficking. Let us all remember in our prayers the 1 million people who are trafficked into slavery each year. As people in solidarity with God’s poor, we must protest this atrocity and work against the demeaning practice of human trafficking.
Sister Mary Ann Vogel, CHM
Attacking Trafficking, Davenport