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The 8th February this year marks the 10th edition of the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking. The day marks the feast of Saint Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese woman who was sold into slavery, abused but later freed. This day of prayer day invites us all to explore the world of trafficking and the suffering it inflicts on millions of people. It is an opportunity to learn about what trafficking means and explore its material, mental and spiritual impact on individuals and societies, to take that first step in the fight against trafficking.

Human trafficking is the modern-day term for slavery. Women, children, and men are bought and sold, beaten, abused, and sometimes killed as they are traded like commodities on the invisible trafficking markets worldwide. Globally, over 70 percent of detected victims of human trafficking are women and girls, while nearly one-third are children. The share of children among detected trafficking victims has tripled, while the share of boys has increased five times over the past 15 years.  Existing and emerging conflicts (including, but not limited to, Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Eritrea, and others) have caused trafficking to evolve dramatically. Moreover, as recalled during the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on 30th July 2022, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the shift of our everyday life to online platforms with the global expansion in technology, human trafficking has conquered even cyberspace.

In the past, victims were searched mainly in the field of sex work engaging women, modern slavery also involves men and children in sectors like housemaids, farmers, factory and sweatshop workers, beggars, pickpockets, in a vicious circle where victims risk to be punished or prosecuted for acts they commit as a direct consequence of being trafficked. In 2018 about 50,000 human trafficking victims were detected and reported by 148 countries: 50 percent were trafficked for sexual exploitation, and 38 percent were exploited for forced labour.

Below is a prayer for the end of human trafficking:

'Loving Father,

We seek your divine protection for all who are exploited and enslaved.

For those forced into labor, trafficked into sexual slavery, and denied freedom.

We beseech you to release them from their chains.

Grant them protection, safety, and empowerment.

Restore their dignity and provide them a new beginning.

Show us how we might end exploitation by addressing its causes.

Help us reach out in support of victims and survivors of human trafficking.

Make us instruments of your spirit for their liberation.

For this we pray through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen'.


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