We share the story about a forum on Human Trafficking titled "Slavery Here and Now". The forum was held on Thursday October 23, 2014 and it was a grand success. Fifty-five people attended, listened and participated in the conversation. There was good representation from both parishes as well as other interested groups. The focus was on why our faith as followers of Jesus impels us to be aware and to act to end this terrible human rights violation where people are bought and sold and killed and forced to do terrible things. We focused on what was happening in Harlem regarding Human Trafficking but realizing also that these atrocities are going on everywhere!
The event opened with a Welcoming and opening prayer offered by Fr Victor, pastor of St Aloysius and ended with a prayer by Veronica Glasgow, also of St Aloysius. The speakers were excellent. They included Sofia Lane the youth Outreach Manager from GEMS which works with girls 12-24 who are sold on the streets of NYC and John Temple from the Manhattan DA's Office, who prosecutes those who sell others and a protestant minister Reverend Que English, co-founder of the NYC Clergy Roundtable (A faith based coalition against Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence). She urged us that as Christians we must rise up and act and with one voice not sit idly by in our church buildings and watch our children and lives be destroyed. Bill Perkins the State Senator also spoke about how important this issue is to his mission. Sister Virginia Dorgan had opened with an overview of what Human Trafficking really is.
In small groups the participants were asked to formulate questions after the presentations and to consider what they would do to stem this escalating menace themselves, individually, and as church. A lively conversation followed with all the speakers who were also joined by a representative of the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking. The participants stayed on after the forum and surely seemed ready to do more.
The additional groups supplying facilitators were Interfaith Center of New York, Nomi Network, World Council for Curriculum and Instruction, Peace and Justice Studies Association, New York Coalition of Religious Congregations to Stop Trafficking of Persons, National Council of Churches, and the JPIC Committee, 2013 Dorota Gierycz briefly discussed the Palermo Protocol, signed in 2000 by 147 nations, including the U.S. It is the only international instrument defining human trafficking. In order to be considered as trafficking, coercion, such as physical abuse, psychological pressure, or bla ckmail must be proven. Besides trafficking of women and children for commercial sex, traffickers exploit labor and conspire in organ harvesting.
This was a collaborative event between the two Catholic churches in Harlem. The co-planners were Veronica Glasgow, Sisters Kathleen Kanet and Virginia Dorgan and Maisha Maliha, staff of Network for Peace through Dialogue.
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