A headline in the Holy Cross Sisters’ publication, The Marianite, stunned me. It read, “More people are in slavery today than ever before in the history of slavery.”

Wow, that’s hard to believe in this day and age! This is a real concern for us living in the New Orleans area with the upcoming Super Bowl and Mardi Gras events.

According to Archbishop Greg Aymond of New Orleans in his weekly Clarion Herald column, “Experts say many young girls are forced into prostitution, and studies show that thousands are brought into a town that hosts a major sporting event. We know from many reports and studies that human trafficking for prostitution is very prominent in a city where a national event of this magnitude takes place. No sporting event in the United States is bigger than the Super Bowl.”

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. As defined by federal law, victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade (40%), adults age 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts (48%), and anyone forced into different forms of “labor or services,” such as domestic workers held in a home, or workers forced to labor against their will.

Sex trafficking can take the form of street prostitution, online escort services, residential brothels, and brothels disguised as massage businesses. Each of these situations has the common elements of force, fraud, or coercion used to control people for commercial sex acts, labor or services.

Every year, human traffickers generate billions of dollars in profits by victimizing millions of people around the world, and here in the United States. Human trafficking is considered one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world.

With 100,000 children estimated to be in the sex trade in the United States each year, the total number of human trafficking victims in the U.S. reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are counted. Under U.S. and international law, commercially sexually exploited children found in the sex trade are considered victims of trafficking, even if no force or coercion is present.

Again, Archbishop Aymond declared, “As a church that is strongly committed to pro-life issues, we vow to respect the dignity of human life and to reverence human life from the moment of conception to natural death. This is a pro-life issue. Anyone who participates in human trafficking – the practice of employing another person, especially minors, for sex – is participating in a serious moral evil.

“We hear about these things taking place in other countries – especially when we hear about children being sold for sex – and we think of it as a terrible evil. But sometimes we don’t realize that it’s happening in our own backyard.

“Some women get involved in prostitution when they are as young as 12 years old. It is a terrible form of child abuse. Some young children get involved in prostitution for money when they run away from home or are on the street. Other times they are pushed into it by a parent or pressured into it by pimps who befriend them, groom them and then force them through threats and drug abuse to remain under their control. It’s an insidious business.

“What children are introduced to can very easily become a way of life. What they see as a way of making a living can poison their minds and their hearts at such a young age. It’s truly an act of evil.”

If you know of any human trafficking taking place, call this hotline number: 1 888-373-7888. 

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