Human Trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Each year an estimated 700,000 to 2 million people worldwide fall victim to traffickers. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that in 2016 the number of people trapped in some form of modern slavery was 40.3 million. These victims, predominately women and children, are forced into unpaid labor, debt bondage, coerced prostitution or sexual servitude. The trafficking of human beings is the third largest criminal activity of organized crime, after drugs and arms.
Pope Francis has spoken against human trafficking. “Trafficking in persons is a despicable activity, a disgrace to our society that calls itself ‘civilized’!” He called upon the international community to find “effective initiatives and new approaches for safeguarding their dignity, improving their quality of life and for facing the challenges emerging from modern forms of persecution, oppression and slavery.” (Pope Francis, Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, May 24, 2013)
School Sisters of Notre Dame, committed to work actively to eliminate the root causes of injustices, have responded to this problem in a number of ways and made the struggle against trafficking one of their priorities. They supported the 2001 Declaration of the International Union of General Superiors (UISG) “to work in solidarity with one another, with particular attention to the trafficking of women.”
On an educational level, School Sisters have prepared theological reflections on trafficking and distributed material to raise consciousness among their members, colleagues, and those with whom they minister. They are involved in campaigns for stronger legislation regarding trafficking in many countries including the United States and the European Union; some serve on task forces and committees and collaborate with their dioceses and national Caritas organizations.