Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. After drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms trade as the second largest criminal industry in the world, and it is the fastest growing.
The church’s Office of Women’s Ministries and the Committee on the Status of Women are trying to focus attention on the problem. With the help of St. Brendan’s Episcopal Church in Franklin Park, Pa., – Liz Tafel-Hurley’s church -- the office distributed 8,000 packages of information to Episcopal churches across the country last summer. More of those packets are available. They include everything necessary for adult education classes and provide resources and links for additional information and video materials.
“Each year approximately 800,000 to 900,000 victims are trafficked across international borders worldwide. Between 18,000 and 20,000 victims are trafficked into the United States. More than half are thought to be children,” according to the committee’s background materials.
Most victims brought into the country do not speak English and are unable to ask for help from health-care workers, law enforcement and other service providers. Victims are forced into prostitution, massage parlors, escort services and strip clubs. They are forced to work in sweatshops and into day labor and domestic service in involuntary servitude, debt bondage or slavery.
A DVD produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about trafficking and how to recognize and help its victims was sent to each bishop and each diocese. It is suitable for showing in adult Sunday school classes, according to the committee.
Contact Kim Robey in the Women’s Ministries Office for the packets and for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org). Contact Tafel-Hurley for mascaritas pins to use as a fund-raising tool (, 412-487-3868).