On Thursday, October 17, 2013, Sister Emma Rooney (Presentation Congregation), Dolly Sweetapple (president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Coalition against Human Trafficking) and Margie Taylor rsm facilitated a session on human trafficking with the religious leaders of Newfoundland.
The committee requested this workshop in an effort to gain more education around this issue. Present for the meeting were 2 out of 3 of our Bishops, representatives from Mercy Sisters, Presentation Sisters, Jesuits, Redemptorists,
The presentation focussed on the definition and causes of human trafficking. They then proceeded to identify the faces of trafficking on a global and local scene. This was the session that impacted the group most as they spoke of women who are prostitutes stealing toilet paper from various stores in the city; people moving from other cities to come to Newfoundland and Labrador to establish web sites where women can check for clients; women making $ 300.00 an hour and saying they are into prostitution because it affords them a lifestyle they never could afford; clothes being made in the factories in Banglasdesh and shipped to stores in Newfoundland for sale; boys aged four burned to death because they could not do domestic work well; poor children with their organs removed so richer people can enjoy better health; university female students exploited as they are seen as “fresh flesh”; each night thelocal paper carries eight to ten ads of young Asian and Korena women who will be in Newfoundland offering companionship, massage, escort services and whatever you need to bring pleasure in your life.
It was examples such as these which moved the group to a higher level of feeling and realization of the hideous behavior of those who engage in this modern day form of slavery. And of course the next question to be asked was what do we do in the light of how the sex industry has boomed in Newfoundland as a result of the oil and gas money. The group felt it would be wise to wait and see what emerges form the workshop Pope Francis has called on November 2,3 in Rome. This may be a springboard for further responses such as a Pastoral Letter on Human Dignity.
Organisers provided prayer cards to the group. They may be utilized in churches and other institutions. A new project on Sex Worker Outreach Project has been established in St Johns city. The goal of the project is to assist women in their efforts to leave the sex trade industry. The project is being funded for a year. In time some financial contribution may be made from the churches for this project. Margie has been asked to join this committee. While participants felt the issue is a tragic one, they were pleased with the education they received. They are looking towards the conference in Rome to gain some insights into how we as a church can respond.
Messages to: Margie Taylor rsm