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Exploitation of the Vulnerable

Catherine McAuley gave high priority to providing shelter and support to homeless, abused and vulnerable servant women and girls. She would have a special understanding for Sabriana, whose story was recently reported by Cois Tine, an outreach project of the Society of African Missions.

Sabriana was introduced to a man called Yani by a neighbour in her village as someone who would help her to a better life in Western Europe. She would earn good money, have a new life and be able to send money home to her elderly mother and father. She agreed to pretend to be married to the man and went with him using false documents he procured. But what began as a journey of hope soon became a living hell. As soon as she reached London she was beaten and abused, she was locked up, told she would be put in jail if the police caught her. Yani forced her to sell sex. Foolishly she hoped for the best because she did not want to believe that it could get worse. It did when Yani sold her to another man and she had to work in brothels and clubs. Without documents escape was almost impossible, she was controlled through a combination of promises, lies, threats and violence. She was even told that her parents would be killed if she tried to escape. Months later she was sold on again and was moved to Dublin from where she was regularly sent to “visit” provincial towns. After a severe beating Sabriana decided she had to get out. She escaped and arrived in a Garda Station afraid, bruised, with broken ribs and teeth.

Unfortunately such stories of trafficking abound. Human trafficking is the term used for activities involved when one person obtains or holds another person in compelled service. The major forms of human trafficking include forced labour, sex trafficking and bonded labour. Also known as involuntary servitude, forced labour may result when unscrupulous employers exploit workers made more vulnerable by high rates of unemployment, poverty, crime, discrimination, corruption and political conflict.

MIA Global Action continues its campaign against trafficking with its Opposing Trafficking Working Group. Last week the working group met by telephone conference and discussed its campaign for the upcoming year. Betty Lacey compiled a synopsis from the TIP (Trafficking in Persons) Report which is an annual report produced by the US government and is used to engage foreign governments on human trafficking. The synopsis focused on countries where Mercy sisters work and minister and gives an up to date of the situation in each of these countries.

The TIP Report is a comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts and represents a global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons and the broad range of government actions to confront and eliminate it. Worldwide, the report is used by international organizations, foreign governments, and nongovernmental organizations alike as a tool to examine where resources are most needed.

The report places each country in one of three tiers based on its governments’ efforts to comply with minimum standards set out by the Trafficking Victims’ Protection Acts (TVPA). Tier 1 covers countries that fully comply with the minimum standards, while Tier 2 includes countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards. Tier 3 covers countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so. The TIP Report can be accessed at

Trafficking is happening worldwide and it exists in all countries where we minister. People are trafficked into different types of work, including restaurant and hotel work, domestic work, construction, agriculture and entertainment, as well as prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation. People can also be trafficked for the purpose of illegal organ removal. For further stories and information see:

Human Trafficking the Bondage by Debra Faulconer Baker

She sits heartlessly and cold, sick out of her mind.
New stock has arrived.
She must pretend before them to be one of the girls
In her heart she knows shortly they each will become her
After being broke in, sold to the highest bidder,
Over and over in a day.
She only wonders -the ones that were such as her-
Answering an ad, thinking they were old enough to be on their own
Wanting the world
She only thinks now the picture to come for them
Victims each of them of human trafficking
Sex slaves who live in fear
If they fail their duties they will be beaten till they give in ,
Forced to take drugs till addicted,
Pennyless, except for the clothes on their backs.
Each night they sleep together, sick and tired, inside of the Pimps den.
Some live, some die, seldom do they ever escape.
Those that do, never forget, never feel free, never feel human.
Being a survivor of bondage.

Copyright 2007

Messages to Betty Lacey