Religious sisters fighting slavery look to expand to 140 countries
A group of religious sisters that goes to extreme measures to fight human trafficking is looking to expand its activities to 40 countries
They go into the streets undercover, often posing as prostitutes, to infiltrate brothels and rescue individuals from forced prostitution. They even buy children who are being sold into slavery. Now they are looking at upping their operations in response to the growing demands to fight the rising tide of human trafficking and slavery, reported Ellen Wulfhorst of the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Talitha Kum is a network of 1,100 sisters currently operating in 80 countries. The group, founded in 2004, estimates that one percent of the world’s population (73 million people) is trafficked in some way. Of that number, 70 percent are women and half are aged 16 or younger. The expansion is in line with the growing prevalence of human trafficking around the world.
“I’m not trying to be sensational but I’m trying to underscore the fact this is a world that has lost innocence … where dark forces are active,” said John Studzinski, investment banker and Chairperson of Talitha Kum.
He said that the sisters working to combat trafficking would do whatever it takes to rescue women, often dressing up as prostitutes and going out on the street to integrate themselves into brothels.
“These sisters do not trust anyone. They do not trust governments, they do not trust corporations, and they don’t trust the local police. In some cases they cannot trust male clergy,” he said, adding that the low-key group preferred to focus on their rescue work rather than promotion,” he said, “They work in brothels. No one knows they are there.”
He added that the sisters have been instrumental in setting up homes in Africa, Brazil and India to shelter children being sold into slavery by their parents.