January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Federal law defines victims of human trafficking as individuals younger than 18 involved in the sex trade; and adults, who as a result of force, fraud or coercion, are deceived into commercial sex acts and into different forms of labor. This could include domestic workers held in a home or farm workers forced to labor against their will.
The International Labor Organization estimates that human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide with 20.9 million victims. Sixty-eight percent of victims are trapped in forced labor, 26 percent are children (average age 13) and 55 percent are women and girls.
Most people think of human trafficking as a crime that takes place in Third World countries. But it’s happening in Iowa. “Iowa is the perfect hiding place for this crime due to our low per capita presence of law enforcement and Interstates Highways 35 and 80,” according to Michael Ferjak of the Iowa Attorney General’s office.
Call your congressional representatives at the state and federal level to ensure passage of laws that protect our most vulnerable populations and that punish those who are traffickers and buyers.
Join us as at The Canticle on Jan. 14, at 6:30 p.m. to see the movie “In Plain Sight” which features the stories of six female abolitionists fighting against sex trafficking in the US.
Visit www.ClintonFranciscans.com for more information.
Community Outreach director
Franciscan Peace Center, Clinton