As you are aware from recent headlines in the news, the scourge of human trafficking is a very real evil in our world. The recent discovery of women being held captive in an upscale Sandy Springs neighborhood is only the tip of the iceberg.
Human Trafficking is the act of recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person by means of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of exploitation, including, prostitution, sexual exploitation, forced labor, removal of organs, or any other type of exploitation. It is the enslavement of God’s children – children of all ages, races, religions, and economic statuses.
Human Trafficking is a $290 MILLION a year industry in the city of Atlanta – more than the illegal arms and drug trades combined! Atlanta is the #1 hub for trafficking in the US.
Some of you may be thinking, “not in my neighborhood. The victims are not from my neighborhood – and the perpetrators definitely aren’t!” We expect to hear about trafficking in some of the “less desirable” areas of Atlanta. As the Sandy Springs discovery tells us, it is indeed in our neighborhood. It’s in areas such as ours that the customers are – and even where the women and children can be taken from. 65% of the men who buy sex with young girls do so in and around suburban and metro Atlanta – outside I-285.
To draw greater awareness to this, OLA and the Brookhaven Police Department will be hosting a Human Trafficking Awareness event at OLA on Tuesday, May 23 from 6:30pm to 9pm. The evening will begin with the showing of the movie “8 Days,” a feature film inspired by actual events to raise awareness and fight sex trafficking.
The movie will be followed by a panel discussion of local law enforcement personnel:
- Gary Yandura, Chief of Police, Brookhaven Police Department
- E. Dalia Racine, Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney, Human Trafficking Unit, DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office
- Camella Mungroo-Patterson, Investigator, Brookhaven Police Department, and Member of the FBI’s MATCH Task Force
I strongly encourage you to attend this event. You can register by clicking here. It is important for each of us to learn how we can help win the fight against human trafficking. It is not only the job of law enforcement.
While this event will mostly focus on trafficking in Atlanta, I encourage you to learn more about the worldwide epidemic of human trafficking. An estimated 27 million men, women, and children are enslaved in the world today – more than any other time in human history.
In the words of Pope Francis “Every human being – man, woman, boy and girl – is the image of God; God, who is love and freedom…therefore every human being is a free person, destined to live for the good of others in equality and brotherhood. Every person and all people are equal and their freedom and dignity must be recognized. Any discriminating relationship that does not respect the fundamental conviction that the ‘other is like me myself’ constitutes a crime, and very often an abhorrent crime.”
Our faith requires that we help those who cannot help themselves. Please join us in helping to eradicate slavery.
Yours in Mary, our Mother,