What is the Church doing to combat human trafficking?

26/11/2014 7:57 pm

Pope Francis meets with victims of human trafficking

Human trafficking is a highly lucrative activity where criminals exploit people and inflict misery.

A response to human trafficking needs to be unequivocal, determined and collaborative. Pope Francis and Cardinal Vincent Nichols are giving leadership on a global and national level to a collaboration which works to:

  • meet the complex needs of those who have been trafficked
  • raise the profile of the problem
  • confront the issues of prevention and education
  • maximise the opportunity for detection and detention of traffickers.

It is now accepted that migration has a global character simultaneously touching all regions and crossing all boundaries.

We also recognise that the motivations for migration run along a continuum spanning political and economic factors. The spectrum runs from immediate threats to life and safety due to war or persecution, through to situations where economic conditions or environmental degradation make the prospect for life, even mere survival, marginal or non-existent.

With economic and environmental conditions worsening in many countries, the likelihood will be even more migration, as people naturally and legitimately seek to improve their lives, when they cannot do so in their homeland - in the process many may seek the help of smugglers or fall victim to traffickers.

Trafficking is a modern-day slavery. Traffickers use violence, coercion and deception to take people away from their homes and families and force them to work against their will. Many of the victims are women and children.

According to the UN, enforced prostitution is one of the fastest growing, most lucrative and thoroughly reprehensible of crimes.

Alternatively, a smuggler will facilitate illegal entry into a country for a fee, but on arrival at the destination, the smuggled person is free and usually does not see the smuggler again.

Traffickers face few risks and can earn enormous profits by taking advantage of large numbers of poor and vulnerable people. People are trafficked both between countries and within countries.

Those trafficked may be forced to work as domestics, in prostitution, as farm and factory workers etc. Trafficked persons are almost always exploited, they are victims of crime and their treatment is a violation of their human dignity.

The current situation - the scale of the problem - is illustrated here:

Facts and Statistics


The Catholic Church's response to this modern-day slavery is the Bakhita Initiative. Find out more here:

Bakhita Initiative


Bakhita Initiative

traffick-booklet-28052015.pdf 1.71 MB

A 10-page PDF booklet giving you detailed information on the Bakhita Initiative - the Catholic Church's response to human trafficking.