|March 28, 2016 • VOL. 54, NO. 6 • Oakland, CA|
Brentwood parish to host
seminar on human trafficking
The Ministry of Caring at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Brentwood heard the Bishop of Oakland's call, during this Year of Mercy, to educate parishioners to recognize human trafficking.
Noting recent local news stories about the raid of a restaurant as well as the abduction of a teenager from the girl's front porch, Heinisch said, "These people are in our neighborhood."
Among the people who have been involved in educating others about "these people" is Sister Barbara Nixon, SNJM, of St. Anne Parish in Byron. She is a member of the Sisters of the Holy Names' Justice and Peace Group in the Diocese of Oakland. Its 11 members, she said, are "movers and shakers."
They are also fearless. Along with other members of her community, Sister Barbara visits hotels and motels of all sizes, informing owners and managers about human trafficking.
She has found the small hotels, those with less than 25 units, "were very receptive. Some were already well informed," she said. Some had taken part in online training, and some had sent employees to training.
She found receptive ears at hotels owned by the East Indian community. "Their values are strong in protecting the human being from danger," she said.
Sister Barbara will be among the speakers at the seminar. Debra Brown, founder of Pillars of Hope, which plans to open a safe house in Eastern Contra Costa County for women who have been victims of human trafficking, will also speak, as will a representative from the Brentwood Police Department.
Another key in protecting victims is in identifying those who demand their services. "If there is no demand for sexual exploitation," Sister Barbara said, "there would be no trafficking."
She described a house in an upscale Contra Costa community. Neighbors became suspicious after seeing men repeatedly visit the house. It turned out to house young women imported as sex workers.
Am I informed about human trafficking ?
On our streets in the Oakland Diocese, we have young girls who are at risk. They are caught in the ring of Human Trafficking. This means they are being controlled, coerced, bought and sold for sex.
Do they want to do this? No, they are caught by the ones who see the financial profits from buying and selling human beings for sexual pleasure of others. These girls are someone's daughter, sister, granddaughter, friend, classmate, neighbor, church friend.
Since 2003, I have grown deeply in my understanding of the "business" of Human Trafficking … the selling of human beings for sex and for labor.
My religious community, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, took a corporate stand in 2004 to work to abolish Human Trafficking. Our efforts reach Africa, Canada, the United States, Brazil and Peru.
Effective ways to stop Human Trafficking are through:
• Education: Tell the stories, tell the facts, train others, be proactive.
• Legislation: Penalize the trafficker with fines and jail time; penalize the user (the ones who buy sex).
• Call the hotline (888-373-7888).
• Work for prevention with neighborhood families, school groups, youth and teens, law enforcement.
• Work for rehabilitation of victims. Collaborate with service providers and volunteer as your gifts allow.
• Call the hotline number. Be aware of the Internet sites being used by family members. At street intersections, is there a young girl loitering? Is there an older man with younger girl(s) at a hotel? Are there guys in their 20s hanging around younger girls? Are there men periodically visiting a home resident during the day? Is there an adult traveling with young girls/teens who seem fearful, silent, controlled?
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