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More priests and male clergy encouraged to join fight against human trafficking

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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
12/15/2014 (4 years ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

Indian nuns leave habits behind to assist policemen in raids against brothels

Disguised along with local police officers, nuns in India have assisted local law enforcement in raids against brothels. Many women and young girls - some as young as 12 years of age, are saved from lives of prostitution. There are now calls for more members of the male clergy, such as priests, to join in this ongoing war against human trafficking. "We can still do more," she said.

An Indian sex worker hides her face from the camera. More Catholic clergy are working to free women like these.

An Indian sex worker hides her face from the camera. More Catholic clergy are working to free women like these.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
12/15/2014 (4 years ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: India, human trafficking, nuns, police, prostitution


span style="line-height: 1.22;">LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sister Sharmi D'Souza, a member of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate, says that she and a number of other religious women were at the Vatican on December 10. Speaking at a press conference, she says that her delegation was there to give a presentation for Pope Francis' World Day of Peace message.

"In one night, we saved 37 girls," she said, adding that 10 were minors. The nuns then take the women to safety and offer them support and assistance. The women also provide information to police, such as names of traffickers and the location of other brothels.

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Disguised along with local police officers, nuns in India have assisted local law enforcement in rai

Disguised along with local police officers, nuns in India have assisted local law enforcement in raids against brothels. Many women and young girls - some as young as 12 years of age, are saved from lives of prostitution.


If police refuse to go with the nuns on a raid because they have been bribed by traffickers, the nuns go to someone higher up on the chain of command, "and they take action," she said.

"We never go alone. We go along with other NGOs together. But we need our pastors to come along with us, our bishops, our priests to support us, because if they are with us we can still do more," she said.

There has been a call more priests and men, religious active to join in this fight.

"The presence of such dedicated women religious is extraordinary. The absence of priests and male religious (at the news conference) is even more noticeable," Father Jeffrey Bayhi, pastor of St. John the Baptist and Our Lady of the Assumption churches in Zachary, Louisiana said. Father Bayhi appeared to be the only priest in the audience who was not part of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which presented the pope's message to the press.

This coming February 8, the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, will be the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking. Father Bayhi said "in the United States, very few people are going to know who she is, and very few priests will be able to tell them about her" or about the global problem of human slavery.

As a child, St. Josephine was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. Freed later, St. Josephine dedicated her life to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering.
Father Bayhi suggested the church develop a short practical guide to help priests develop homilies for the day of prayer as well as offer courses or information for priests and seminarians about human trafficking.

While women religious are on the streets helping victims, priests need to take advantage of "the pulpit" to speak out against the exploitation of other human beings.

"That's the one microphone we have got worldwide, that the priest in the church can help educate" others, he said.

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