Their bodies are sold for profit,
while their souls cry out in agony.
Won’t you help us answer their prayers?
When it comes to the empowerment of women and girls, the world is beginning to get it. Instead of blaming and shaming victims of harassment and sexual assault, society is applauding their courage. We can and will do better for the next generation!
But right now, we must do better for victims suffering the most — those who are trafficked into prostitution or forced labor. Millions of people have been “sold” into modern-day slavery, mostly women and children. The majority are sexually exploited. And it continues to happen not only in faraway lands but also throughout the U.S. and right here in New York, every single day.
Our Sisters are passionate about this issue because Charity means boldly standing with those whose dignity is violated — especially when the rest of society turns its back. Please stand with us and help us end human trafficking!
With Super Bowl season upon us, preparations are underway for thousands of visitors to Atlanta — and also for the increase in sex trafficking expected around this event. The Super Bowl puts a spotlight on this criminal industry every winter, along with Human Trafficking Prevention Month activities in January. But it’s critical that we keep this spotlight shining all year long.
The Sisters of Charity are leaders in this fight along with other women religious, thanks to Sister Mary Ellen O’Boyle, SC, who coordinates our anti-trafficking ministry. In conjunction with CRC-STOP (Coalition of Religious Congregations to Stop Trafficking of Persons), we work to educate and inform the public, hotel staff, transit workers and law enforcement on what to look out for, so that trafficking is prevented before it ever happens.
We also help survivors directly by volunteering at safe houses in the New York area, which we helped establish in partnership with the LifeWay Network. These safe houses are a godsend for women who are profoundly traumatized. They offer a secure temporary home, along with counseling and services to help survivors rebuild their lives.
It’s not just adults — the lives of 300,000 children also hang in the balance. That’s the estimated number of children in the U.S. at risk of being forced into prostitution. Most are fleeing abuse at home and are very vulnerable. And the average child at risk is just 13 years old.
Imagine you are a homeless teenager – hungry, tired, afraid. You don’t know whom to trust, and the streets are dangerous. When you meet a new “friend” who pays for your meals and protects you from immediate danger, you feel a huge sense of relief. But you don’t know what they actually have in store, and by the time you find out, it may be too late.
Others are victimized after answering deceptive online ads that sound like legitimate employment. Some have newly immigrated with no support network, suddenly finding themselves locked up and forced into prostitution, unpaid labor and/or domestic servitude. It is a terrible violation against the whole person — body, mind, and spirit.
The good news is, we are making real progress! Your support has helped us advocate for better legislation including the “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act,” which just became federal law in the past year. This law makes it harder for traffickers to conduct their criminal business online, by holding Internet companies accountable for the ads they host. This is a major step forward in the fight against trafficking!
We also have a new NY state law that will protect children more than ever before. The “End Child Sex Trafficking Act” was signed into law by Governor Cuomo this past summer. In the past, child predators couldn’t be prosecuted unless the children went to court to testify against them — a terrifying prospect for girls and boys already traumatized. Now the burden has been taken off the children, and our justice system can finally protect them.
These legislative accomplishments are important. They give us new tools to fight back. But they are just one piece of the puzzle. Trafficking is a growing $32 billion-dollar global industry. We need your help more than ever to increase awareness and prevention efforts, and to reach out to survivors.
You can start by praying for the victims. Most have been sexually violated. Their pain is almost unbearable. Their stories are gut-wrenching. And for every survivor who escapes, there are countless more living in terror, with no way to speak out. They need to realize that God has not abandoned them. They need us to be their presence, advocate and, voice.
Because this issue is so urgent, we will be very grateful for any gift you can provide for our anti-trafficking ministry, large or small. Remember, even if your actions help save just one child or woman from a lifetime of abuse and exploitation, it will be worth it.
Thank you for opening your heart to the forgotten victims in our midst. The Sisters and those we serve are deeply grateful for your compassion, and we will keep you in our prayers. With gratitude,
Jane Iannucelli, SC
P.S. Trafficking victims need our support. Please join us in prayer. (Click here to download). Thank you and God bless!