Saint Josephine Bahita and Human Trafficking
February 8 is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery. It is the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.
As a nine year old child, Bakhita was kidnapped and sold as a slave. Flagellation and abuse were part of her daily life. With slavery she experienced physical and moral humiliation. Finally she was bought by an Italian Consul and brought to his family where she received kindness and respect. She discovered God and became a Canossian Sister. She dedicated her life to sharing her story of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering. She was declared a Saint by John Paul II in 2000.
According to reports, over 30 million people worldwide are enslaved. Asia, Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa are the regions where the greatest number of people suffer from different forms of slavery and human trafficking. Women, men and children are being sold for forced prostitution, forced labour and the military. Some are forced into marriage or begging and trafficked for organ theft or baby selling. Trafficking for sex exploitation and forced labour are among the most lucrative businesses in the world, a scourge depriving so many human beings of their dignity.
On February 8, let us join Catholics all over the world in prayer and in creating awareness about human trafficking. Through prayer, may we not only reflect on the experiences of those that have suffered, but also comfort, strengthen, and help empower survivors.