Catholic Church fighting human trafficking

April 15th, 2011 by Staff

LEE COUNTY, FL -Millions of women and children worldwide have become victims of human trafficking and forced to work in the sex trade. Fighting this type of exploitation is a priority for law enforcement – and for the Catholic Church.

The story of human trafficking is a brutal one.

One woman, who doesn’t want to be identified, says she agreed to come to America with hopes and dreams of working and making money for school.

Before she knew it, she was trapped. She was forced into the sex trade.

“It was a horrible nightmare,” said the victim. “That person made me do things I didn’t want to do.”

Most victims who are trafficked for sex are locked up, beaten and threatened with their lives.

After almost a year, she was able to escape.

She’s being helped by members of the Catholic Church.

“We provide services to victims of human trafficking throughout Lee and Collier counties,” said Alex Olivares of Catholic Charities.

The Catholic Church is getting involved. Their organization called Catholic Charities helps victims of human trafficking.

They provide transportation, food and legal help. Deputies contact them whenever there’s a trafficking case.

“We work hand in hand with Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, federal agencies also,” said Olivares.

Along with assisting victims, Catholic Charities is out in the community to bring awareness to the issue.

It’s part of the bishop’s passion to put a stop to human trafficking.

“It’s definitely the modern day slavery,” said Bishop Frank Dewane of the Diocese of Venice.

The Catholic Church is teaching its parishioners what to look out for and how to identify the signs of a victim.

The diocese began this big push to end human trafficking last fall and so far, they say it’s been a big success.

They’re even going to hospitals, schools, and shelters to spread the word.

“I wish I could put an end to it,” said Bishop Dewane.

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