Pope Francis has been a voice for inclusion of the most vulnerable and marginalized members of society. He has strongly condemned human trafficking, calling it “a crime against humanity.” Indeed, this heinous crime has created more than 21 million slaves around the world, degrading their human dignity.
Earlier this year, on February 8, the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, Pope Francis reiterated that leaders must do all they can to eradicate human trafficking. “I urge all those in government positions to combat this scourge with firmness, giving voice to our younger brothers and sisters who have been wounded in their dignity. All efforts must be made to eradicate this shameful and intolerable crime,” he said.
Catholics Confront Global Poverty (CCGP), an initiative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services, has long been engaged in the fight against human trafficking. By providing resources for education and advocacy, we have helped Catholics to call on policymakers to pass legislation that would provide assistance and protection for victims, while also creating supply chains that do not support trafficking and forced labor.
Here’s what you, our CCGP supporters, have helped us accomplish:
Turn On the Light Campaign
From November 2016 to February 2017, Catholics across the United States made visible their strong support for eradicating human trafficking by urging our elected officials to “Turn On the Light” to end human trafficking by strengthening and enforcing anti-trafficking laws. More than 12,000 messages were sent to members of Congress.
To further illustrate this priority, candles made by refugees were available for purchase through our partner Prosperity Candle. The act of combining these actions—citizen advocacy with consumer advocacy—was very powerful. Thousands of candles were sold helping to “turn on the light” to expose this horrible scourge.
Protecting Programs That Help Fight Human Trafficking
For fiscal year 2017, grassroots advocacy efforts contributed to preserving critical funding for the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs program that combats forced labor and trafficking, and works to reduce exploitive child labor. Over many months, continued outreach to elected officials resulted in broad support and funding for this work. We need to keep up our advocacy for this funding in the upcoming FY2018 negotiations as well, so please be ready to add your voice in support of this important work!
The Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015
In the 114th Congress, which ended in January 2017, the House of Representatives and the Senate put forth a bill that would require companies with more than $100 million in annual business to report on what they’re doing to ensure their products are not the result of child or forced labor, slavery or human trafficking. This would help consumers make informed choices, and, therefore, press businesses to do more to stop this heinous crime. The bill didn’t pass, although it received some support in both the House and Senate, thanks to Catholics who advocated for it. Many bills require years of advocacy before they become law, so don’t be discouraged! And stay tuned for more information on the re-introduction of this bill, and ways you can help push it through.
Please stand with us as we continue to Turn On the Light and put an end to human trafficking.