February 8th has been designated by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General as an annual day of prayer and awareness against human trafficking. February 8th is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. She learned from Canossian nuns that she was created in the image of God and possessed human dignity. Once she asserted herself and refused to be enslaved, Josephine became a Canossian sister and dedicated her life to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering. She was declared a Saint in 2000.
Facts about Human Trafficking:
• There are an estimated 40.3 million victims of modern-day slavery worldwide. Of these, 25 million are victims of labor or sex trafficking and 15 million are people trapped in forced marriages.
• Nearly 30% of all victims are men and boys; increasing to 46% for victims of forced labor
• Unfortunately, stakeholders have increasingly found that individuals in situations of forced migration, such as refugees and unaccompanied children, are particularly vulnerable to labor and sex traffickers.
• Victim identification remains a significant challenge to U.S. efforts to prevent trafficking, prosecute perpetrators, and protect victims.
• Calculated as a 150-billion-dollar industry, modern day slavery has become the fastest growing source of illicit profit for criminals worldwide.
On this day let us pray for the deliverance of all peoples enslaved in the world. Let us pray for the dignity of the human person.