By KIM VAN OOSTEN
CHA has joined with two other Catholic organizations in a social media campaign to heighten awareness of the essential evil of human trafficking, and it is asking its members to participate. The campaign continues through the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking on Feb. 8.
These and other graphic media files in support of the anti-human trafficking awareness campaign are available for download on the CHA website at chausa.org/ht.
CHA, the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking and the anti-trafficking programs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Migration and Refugee Services began the campaign on Jan. 11, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. They are encouraging people to contribute to, and broadly share, campaign materials using the hashtags #humantrafficking and #CatholicHealth. Graphic media files and additional anti-human trafficking materials can be found at chausa.org/HT. To see social media posts as part of the campaign's social media stream, "like" CHA on Facebook, follow the organization on Twitter, or connect with CHA on LinkedIn.
The free resources on the CHA website include prayers, graphics, videos, podcasts and webinars. There are links to resources prepared by CHA members, numerous Catholic leadership organizations, and government and nongovernmental organizations. Catholic Health World and Health Progress coverage of ministry-member initiatives to stem trafficking and assist victims is archived on CHA's human trafficking web page.
CHA members who have not yet shared their materials and best practices related to anti-human trafficking are invited to do so. To share an item, email Julie Trocchio at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is CHA's senior director of community benefit and continuing care and she oversees CHA's human trafficking educational initiative.
"The tragedy of human trafficking and being in service to those who are victims, while also advocating for policies that can end modern day slavery, is something we as national organizations can help bring to the fore, particularly when we work together," Trocchio said.
Human trafficking is one of today's most serious human rights issues. It "attacks the basic dignity of the person and the dignity of work," said Sr. Anne Victory, HM, the education director of the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking in Cleveland and president of the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking. She expressed hope that the Catholic partnership to highlight anti-trafficking resources and education will get broad traction and raise awareness and motivate action by people of goodwill everywhere.
All people "have a responsibility as members of the human family to work together to end this scourge," she said.
CHA and its members are sharing practical tools to educate health care providers in identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking because health care providers have an important role to play in interrupting trafficking. Health facilities may be the only places where a person being trafficked for sex or labor can interact with a professional capable of connecting them to legal, health and other resources that can free them from their oppressors and support them in physical and emotional healing.
Sr. Victory said health professionals should be trained to recognize signs of emotional trauma in a patient that could be a red flag that the individual is being trafficked or held against his or her will. Training modules developed by CHA members teach clinicians how to approach a victim without adding to that person's distress or trauma or putting the patient at risk of further harm or retribution from their oppressor. In many cases the trafficker accompanies a victim to the emergency room or medical appointment, so providers need to know how to ensure the victim is safe and what steps to follow to get meaningful help to victims.
Sr. Victory, Trocchio and Hilary Chester, the associate director for anti-trafficking programs at the USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services, discuss anti-human trafficking efforts and resources in the latest edition of Catholic Health USA. The CHA podcast will be available in late January at chausa.org/podcast. A recent CHA webinar that explored Catholic Health Initiatives' multifaceted approach to raising human trafficking awareness and prevention, including public policy activism, is available on the CHA website.
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