Today, February 8th, the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, is the first annual National Human Trafficking Day. I apologize for posting this so late in the day, but I didn't learn about it until I went to Mass today. Still, it is important to build awareness of this tragedy any day of the year.
St. Josephine Bakhita was born in Sudan in 1869 and enslaved as a child. She was eventually brought to Italy where she ultimately obtained her freedom and joined the Canossian Daughters of Charity. At the Mass when she was canonized, St. John Paul II stated, "in St. Josephine Bakhita we find a shining advocate of genuine emancipation. The history of her life inspires not passive acceptance but the firm resolve to work effectively to free girls and women from oppression and violence . . ."
There are currently over 27 million people enslaved worldwide, including here is the U.S. These include forced labor, sex trafficking, debt bondage, forced child labor, child soldiers, and child sex trafficking. Approximately 14,500 - 17,500 individuals are trafficked into the US each year. 50% of those are children.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center can be reached at 1-888-373-7888
To learn more about the US Catholic Sisters efforts against human trafficking, visit www.bakhitainitiative.com