As both human beings and as Catholics, it is our duty to stand up as advocates against human trafficking. The process of advocating for the cessation of human trafficking is a multistep process – beginning with prayer for the safety of victims and the capture of perpetrators. We must also properly educate ourselves through credible sources concerning the startling facts of human trafficking worldwide. Once we come to terms with the true horrors of modern day slavery, we can turn to various federal laws and charitable organizations established in effort to combat the practice of human trafficking.
To begin with, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) is a federal law established by the United States Congress. It was created in order to initiate procedures for prosecuting perpetrators, establish rules for preventing the practice of human trafficking, and generate methods for protecting the victims and survivors of trafficking. Most importantly, the TVPA establishes human trafficking and related modern day slavery offenses as federal crimes. This allows for perpetrators to receive more severe punishments for the maltreatment and forced slavery of their victims.
The TVPA was so successful in its first few years of implementation that it was revised in 2003, 2005, and 2008, respectively. In 2003, the reauthorization of the law allowed for victims to sue their perpetrators. This is a huge step in the eventual elimination of human trafficking, as victims are now able to further punish their perpetrators and seek both monetary and mental compensation for their strife. The reauthorization of the law in 2005 generated funding for various programs in order to help shelter minors involved in trafficking. In its final reauthorization in 2008, the TVPA helped to establish policies of workers’ rights to be displayed in all businesses nationwide.
In addition to the TVPA, there are also various organizations that aim to advocate for the termination of modern day slavery practices. God calls us all to be advocates for human dignity, and these organizations join together both Catholics and non-Catholics alike in order to help combat human trafficking.
The New York Coalition of Religious Congregations to Stop Trafficking of Persons (NY-CRC-STOP) is a multi-religious organization established in order to vocalize the urgency of the cessation of human trafficking in New York State. They use both prayer and education in order to help stop modern day slavery. On a global level, the Vatican has established the End Slavery program in response to Pope Francis’ commitment to eradicate human trafficking. In 2014, lead by Pope Francis and the Vatican End Slavery Program, religious leaders from various faiths signed the Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery, in which they each pledged to work diligently to end modern day slavery by 2020. In addition, the program’s #endslavery hashtag campaign encourages laity all over the world to engage in anti-trafficking programs.
In all, we are witnesses of all that happens on God’s earth – both the good and the bad. As God’s children and protectors of human dignity, it is our job to stand up as advocates for the fight against human trafficking by educating ourselves on the federal laws and duties of various organizations established in the anti-trafficking sector.
For more information on the TVPA, please visit the US Department of State Website at www.state.gov/j/tip/laws/61124.htm. For more information on any of the organizations mentioned, please visit the following websites: NY-CRC-STOP – www.divinecompassion.org; Vatican End Slavery – www.endslavery.va.
Report trafficking concerns
Visit www.usccb.org/stopslavery to learn more about how to identify a potential victim and what you can do to help. You can report tips on potential cases of human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888. The text message number is: HELP to BeFree (233733).