Human trafficking conference features survivors

A human trafficking conference packed a congressional meeting room on Capitol Hill June 26. Government staffers, Good Shepherd Mission Partners, and social justice advocates participated in the event.

The National Advocacy Center of Sisters of the Good Shepherd (NAC) sponsored and organized the conference for the second consecutive year.

Conference organizers offered a wide range of human trafficking examples. Neha Misra, of the Washington-based Solidarity Center, said that even the popular image most people have about human trafficking can prove complicated.

Sister Winifred Doherty, United Nations Representative for the Good Shepherd Congregation, addressed conferees. She used Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si as a launching point to discuss human ecology and our relationship to one another.

“Our society sees humans as objects,” Sr. Winifred said.

“We encounter the other as objects to be commercialized and used. … And we are all diminished for it,” she said.

human trafficking conference
Television reporters interview Winifred Doherty, RGS, about the trafficking conference and her role with Good Shepherd at the United Nations. Sister Winifred spoke at NAC’s first conference on human trafficking in 2018 and addressed conferees again this year.

Twenty-year-old Bailey also spoke at the human trafficking conference. A survivor of trafficking, she spoke about finding her way to Vista Maria. The Good Shepherd ministry in Detroit offers female survivors of human trafficking critical services to help them heal. Vista Maria provides such services as counseling, housing, and career training.

Human Trafficking Conference engages participants in lobbying

In her address to conference attendees, Bailey said, “Without long-term treatment, I would not be where I am today. It wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t want to live because of my depression. Today my future is very promising. Please help us pass laws that support girls and women who have experienced sexual exploitation and help them have a future beyond trafficking.”

Participants lobbied U.S. lawmakers after the human trafficking conference. Their purpose was to encourage elected leaders to pass tougher legislation that will help combat the problem of trafficking.

The September issue of Items of Interest will share two pieces of legislation that the National Advocacy Center supported at the conference. We will invite you to contact your lawmakers in support of the legislation.

Kathy Dempsey

Kathy Dempsey

Kathy Dempsey is Communications and Advocacy Consultant for National Advocacy Center of Sisters of the Good Shepherd. She is based in Silver Spring, Maryland.