Salvatorians working to draw attention to human trafficking

HADDONFIELD — Kathy Isherwood of Christ the King Parish here, wants to make Jan. 11 ring loud and clear throughout the country as the day when all Americans become aware of human trafficking, one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises in the world today.

She is one of the newest members of the Salvatorian Anti-Human Trafficking Committee. The Salvatorian religious and lay members has been involved with the issue for some nine years.

The Salvatorians — also known as the Society of the Divine Savior — is a religious society with papal approval, founded in Rome on Dec. 8, 1881, by the servant of God Father Francis Mary of the Cross Jordan

The U.S. has recognized Jan. 11 since 2007 but Isherwood together with the Salvatorians wants to expand awareness of the problem by naming January Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

“I’ve been a Lay Salvatorian for a while but only recently joined the committee,” she pointed out. “But I never realized how extensive human trafficking was until I joined the committee.”

Kevin Bales, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “Free the Slaves,” estimated that nearly 30 million men, women, and children are bought and sold each year in some 127 countries, including the United States. Children are often brought to this country, not only to work as prostitutes, said Isherwood, but as servants who clean and take care of children, thinking that their lives will become better in the future.

“I’m trying to put my hand around the problem,” she said, “and to work with my community.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is being petitioned by the Salvatorians to make human trafficking a global issue. The petition says in part:

“This year [2009] 1.2 million children were kidnapped or sold into slavery or prostitution. Every girl and boy should be protected from exploitation, but right now children around the world, especially young girls, are daily victims of sexual violence, forced labor, and imposed marriage….”

The petition is urging Clinton to spread “awareness of human trafficking by including it as a key part of upcoming speeches and responding to tragedies in the news;

“Encouraging the work of organizations and countries that are making progress in ending human trafficking; and

“Discussing this issue with key leaders of countries who are known for human trafficking violations, as well as other forms of violence against women and girls, and insisting that these leaders follow the recommendations in the 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report.”

Jan. 11 is known as National Awareness Day in Human Trafficking: Modern Slavery.

For more information about what the Salvatorians are doing and more details on the petition, contact Kathy Isherwood at kathy.isherwood@gmail.com

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