Sister Anne Victory hosted a special discussion titled “Hu- man Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery” on April 12. Some stu- dents were required to attend the event for class, but all were welcome to take part in Sister Victory’s presentation and fol- lowing question-and-answer session.
She surprised most Seton Hill University (SHU) students with her extensive knowledge on a subject buried and hidden within our culture today.
sophomore Natalie Spanner said she was shocked.
“I cannot believe this is happening in our country, and it is never addressed. I was unaware of the issue until I listened tonight,” sophomore Natalie Spanner said.
Per year, human trafficking is a $32 billion industry. It is incredibly prevalent in the state of Pennsylvania. In fact, Pennsylvania is fourth highest in number of human traffick- ing crimes in the U.S.
Questions quickly arose, such as “How could such an issue remain hidden in a country that claims to be free?” and even “What, exactly, is human trafficking?”
Human trafficking is the buying and selling of people for either labor or sexual exploitation. Essentially, it is a form of slavery, despite slavery having been abolished long ago. Traf- ficking includes the transportation of humans in nearly any form, including selling, trading, recruiting or harboring.
Sister Victory noted that the abuse the victim undergoes is an important aspect of trafficking. It is achieved through physical force, fraud or coercion.
Between 800 to 900,000 people are trafficked over interna- tional borders each year. Of these, 18 to 20,000 come and go from the U.S. Each gender is equally trafficked, though men are often exploited for labor and women for sex.
Traffickers can be anyone, including the elderly to pro-
fessionals. The traffickers often target people who could be considered victims, including children, homeless, runaways, immigrants, the disabled, vulnerable women and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer) individuals.
Sister Victory shocked the audience again when she men- tioned that while 49 states have laws to persecute traffickers, Wyoming remains lawless. Though Pennsylvania has legisla- ture banning human trafficking, it lacks coverage of sex traf- ficking and instead focuses on labor.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” said senior Rob Zanni. “I didn’t even know this went on, and to find out PA is fourth highest in the country? It’s just crazy.”
The presentation closed with an explanation of the issue to Catholic social teaching. Sister Victory explained that it is the outsider’s responsibility to make victims whole again by turn- ing to the church and government.
She also pointed out that if one person hurts, the whole community hurts. She explained that the dignity of the hu- man is of the utmost importance.
The presentation ended with a question and answer session.
Associate Dean of Student Services Robin Anke asked a series of questions, including the vital, “What can we do in order to prevent human trafficking?”
Sister Victory explained several simple ways of fighting hu- man trafficking on a daily basis. Check clothing on labels and find out where they are being produced. When in the super- market, check labels on foods and produce. Stop purchasing these goods if they originate from areas that could encourage human trafficking.
She also emphasized the importance of notifying proper authority if any type of trafficking or abuse is suspected. By taking these preventative measures, Sister Victory said we could all play a part in fighting the hidden issue of human trafficking across borders.