Today we respond to the injustice and violence of human trafficking by raising awareness and praying for our sisters and brothers in need. Last year, Pope Francis asked us to combat the dishonorable act by declaring today International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking in honor of the Feast Day of St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of anti-trafficking who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in southern Sudan and Italy.
As we reflect, remember to pray for the refugees and migrants who endure these trials and tribulations along their journey. Forcibly displaced people, including millions of children, are among the most vulnerable to exploitation as they journey and arrive in new countries. The majority of women and children who migrate face the danger of human trafficking, due to the lack of resources, protection, and the opportunity to provide a better life for their self and family.
Refugees like Tigiste, a refugee who was imprisoned for her Christian beliefs in Eritrea, suffering degradation and sexual abuse by her captures. Tigiste was then given to another capture, only to, again, be horrifically abused. Tigiste and her story are profiled in Dying to Live, Stories from Refugees on the Road to Freedom a new book co-published by Jesuit Refugee Service, by Danielle Vella, journalist, refugee expert, and JRS Director of International Reconciliation Programs.
JRS will continue to accompany and serve refugees and migrants in conflict zones, on remote borders, and in busy cities by maintaining a strong humanitarian response and providing protection to those most vulnerable among us. As we recognize this International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking, we ask that you open your hearts and minds to the victims, especially those forcibly displaced persons.
To learn more about human trafficking and what you can do to respond visit the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development’s Refugee and Migrants Section’s website.