An International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking

06/02/2017 12:23 pm

Pope Francis meets with victims of human trafficking

"The feast of St Josephine Bakhita is a wonderful opportunity - every year - to remember and pray for those who have suffered from the dreadful experience of having been trafficked and an opportunity to recommit ourselves as the Church to doing everything we can to eliminate the scourge of human trafficking from the world in which we live". Bishop Patrick Lynch

On 8 February, we mark a day of prayer for victims of human trafficking and those who work to combat this scourge of humanity. Appropriately the date chosen is the feast day of St Josephine Bakhita - herself sold into slavery.

Click here for prayers or download to the right of this page.


2012: The date was designated by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales as a Day of Prayer and awareness-raising for victims of human trafficking.

2014: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops observed the feast as a Day of Prayer for victims and survivors of trafficking.

2015: The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and International Union of Superiors General observed the feast as “International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking”.

The Feast of St Josephine Bakhita - 8 February - is now recognised and celebrated by Catholics all over the world.

Similarly the commitment of the Bishops to eliminate the scourge of human trafficking through a carefully developed human trafficking project is having a galvanising effect at local and international levels.

In partnership with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) an awareness raising course: 'An Introduction to Human Trafficking' has been designed and delivered in the last three years. Over 400 individuals drawn from clergy and women religious, vulnerable ethnic communities and diocesan coordinators for migration have attended the course.

The IOM has completed a pilot programme in two Sixth Form Colleges in London and it is expected to roll out the training in Catholic schools across England and Wales. The IOM has also recently secured the Continuous Professional Development accreditation for the course. In June 2015 the IOM Director General, Ambassador William Lacy Swing and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the CBCEW signed a cooperation agreement between CBCEW and IOM to strengthen their relationship and tackle human trafficking through awareness raising and other joint initiatives.

The Santa Marta Group

The international response of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference to human trafficking is channeled through the Santa Marta Group (SMG) and has cumulated in the formation of a dynamic global network of bishops and police chiefs from around the world.

Three major international conferences have been held in Rome, London and Madrid.

The SMG was founded on a belief in the dignity of every human being and its objective is to build international relationships to develop joint strategies to tackle the highly complex challenge of human trafficking/modern slavery.

The guiding principle is victim focus - keeping the welfare of the victims at the heart of all law enforcement.

The SMG combines the resources of the Church with those of Law Enforcement Agencies to prevent trafficking and modern day slavery, provide pastoral care to victims and assist with community re-integration in the source, transit or destination country.

SMG members work to improve public policy and legislation, and bring the criminals to justice. The UK is leading member on legislation and the bishops have made valuable contribution to the development of the recent UK legislation the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Caritas Bakhita House

Another initiative of the Santa Marta Group is Caritas Bakhita House, a shelter located in London and supported by a local parish.

The house opened in June 2015 and provides pastoral and practical help to victims of human trafficking.

It provides temporary accommodation and care for the most vulnerable and traumatised victims who are outside of the existing government support structures provided through the National Referral Mechanism.

Caritas Bakhita House is a ‘triage’ centre for the emergency placement of vulnerable women.


Posters and prayer cards can be downloaded to the right of this page.

Related Links

Biography of St Josephine Bakhita
Official website for the Santa Marta Group
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
TRAC (Trafficking Awareness-Raising and Campaigning)


Prayer Card

prayer-traff-bookmark.pdf 1.43 MB

A printable prayer card helping us reflect on the example of St Josephine Bakhita.


Poster A4

prayer-traff-A4-poster.pdf 4.29 MB

A printable A4 poster marking the Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking.