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Human Trafficking

True to their heritage, Sisters of St. Joseph in the United States look around the world and see the horrors of modern day slavery- human trafficking. Through their prayer and the sharing of their hearts, they feel impelled to act.

Just as the first Sisters of St. Joseph understood that their mission required them to come together to assess the needs of their neighborhood; and after deep listening, formulate plans for action to address those needs, and hold themselves accountable for how those plans impacted the world, the US Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph seeks ways that they can act together to address this human suffering.

Why do we care?As this issue grew in our awareness, Sisters of St. Joseph educated themselves about human trafficking. When they came together for their National Event in 2011, this issue took on a new urgency and incredible significance. Once they knew, they could not close their eyes to this human tragedy. The closer they looked, the more they found it in their immediate neighborhood and began to see the global connections and impacts. They may not have had the professional training or fully understood all the implications but they knew they could not idly stand by. They also began to realize how their own patterns of consumption were complicit in enabling this system to flourish.

What we do about human trafficking: Human trafficking is a complex problem with many facets. One of the first things we did was look for partners who either were already addressing the issues or seemed like logical partners to help. We joined coalitions (see side bar for coalitions in your area), we found ways to educate people where we had channels to do so, we provided services or began to rethink services we already provided to include these people. We prayed and invited others to join us in praying for these victims, their oppressors and human trafficking collaborators, whether knowing or unknowing. We identified places where we had the power to influence systems to change and we used it. We looked at our human trafficking footprint and worked to reduce it.

What can you do?

Educate Yourself

  • Watch the papers and television for human trafficking and related items like immigration. Take time to check out the different websites
  • Read the monthly Stop Trafficking Newsletter at
  • Become educated regarding human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women.

Raise Awareness

  • Share what you learn. Bring it up in conversation with friends and family. Ask what people have heard about it.
  • Read Half the Sky by Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as part of a book club.
  • Read and discuss columns on human trafficking by Nicolas Kristof (New York Times)

Advocacy and Action

Coalitions in which we participate:

  • Boston; N.E. Anti- Human Trafficking Task Force, MA anti- human Trafficking Task Force, DEMAND ABOLITION, Carr Center for Human Rights, Harvard, LCWR Boston, Congregation of St. Joseph- About CCRIM: The Coalition for Corporate Responsibility for Indiana and Michigan (CCRIM) is a faith-based investor group comprising 11 orders of Catholic women religious. CCRIM engages in socially responsible investing in collaboration with hundreds of other faith-based investor groups through the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility. CCRIM has invested directly in several hotel chains for the purposes of dialoguing with the companies about their ethical responsibilities in the marketplace of profitability.
  • ICCR (The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility) is a coalition of 275 faith-based institutional investors including international investors. ICCR seeks to build a more just and sustainable society by integrating social values into corporate and investor decisions. This is accomplished through shareholder activities including dialogues with management and filing shareholder resolutions. Major areas of focus area include: Domestic Health, Global Health, Human Rights, Energy and Environment, Human Trafficking, Corporate Governance, and Access to Capital. For more visit:
  • Philadelphia: Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition
  • New York Coalition of Religious Congregations to Stop Trafficking of Persons (NY-CRC-STOP)– with membership of 32 Congregations
  • Philadelphia: Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition
  • St. Louis- St. Louis Rescue & Restore Coalition ,

Activities we do:


Educational efforts

  • Hotel letter writing campaign (Philadelphia, Baden and Erie collaborated in writing letters to hotels in Indianapolis about Human Trafficking and the Super Bowl)
  • Educate in parishes, archdiocese, colleges, high schools in the Greater Boston area.
  • Public Forums
    • The Face of Child Slavery, March 10, 2012- Mount St. Mary’s College, Los Angeles
    • TRAFFICKED in Our Own Backyard, February 8, 2012, Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia
    • Consumerism, Fair Trade and Human Trafficking, May 5, 2012, Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston Motherhouse, Brighton MA. – this is will be the 5th Anti-Trafficking the Boston Anti Human Trafficking Coalition has sponsored since 2008.
    • The True Price of a Low Cost: Labor Trafficking and Consumerism March 24, 2012 Fordham University Rose Hill Campus NY-CRC-STOP is one of 4 co-sponsors

Actions We Take

  • Boston- Gave testimony at the State House for the Anti- human trafficking bill that lead to passage of Anti-Trafficking Legislation in Massachusetts
  • Advocated for public service announcements before the Super Bowl.
  • Established a Safe House for women in transition from trafficking in collaboration with Boston area religious congregations
  • Ongoing education on the subject to all constituencies including interfaith and investment firms.
  • Philadelphia: Several sister volunteer at Dawn’s Place: the only safe house for victims of human trafficking in Philadelphia
  • LifeWay Network, Inc.’s Safe House – provides a welcoming and supportive environment for women survivors of human trafficking
  • St. Louis- Involved with
    • Covering House- a place of refuge and restoration for girls of sexual exploitation and sexual trafficking
    • Healing Action Network- provides a psychosocial support network for survivors, organizes public awareness, and works with policy-makers and law enforcement to create person-centered policies that helps survivors and punishes perpetrators.

Statements we have issued