- In preparation for the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia USA, UNANIMA board member Margaret Scott ACI served on the media committee of an Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition. Made up of Catholic Sisters, church groups, Covenant House, and other members, the Coalition adopted various strategies to raise awareness about trafficking. They put their logo on three central bus stops near the Convention Center, where they gave out information and engaged passersby in discussion. A large building which could be seen all over the city featured the message “stop human trafficking” in rotating lights during the three days of the Convention. There was an article in the paper, and other members organized training for all the hotels in downtown Philadelphia and at the airport. For more information please see the webpage: Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition: LET FREEDOM RING. In other news, the picture shows Margaret taking her oath of citizenship to become a citizen of the USA! Congratulations, Margaret!
- Brigidine Sisters have supported ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious against Trafficking in Humans) with human resources, finance and office space since the group’s foundation. Claire Griffin CSB works with members of other congregations who support trafficked labourers, and trafficked and exploited women and their children. In early September 2016 an ACRATH group travelled to Canberra, Australia’s centre for Federal Government (see picture), to speak with Minister Keenan about the need for funding over the next three years for ACRATH. Australia’s international obligations for vulnerable and exploited persons are met in part by ACRATH’s work. Members raised concerns about 1) overseas forced and exploited labour in Australia’s building boom and 2) the lack of prosecution for those guilty of exploitation according to the recent Reform of Employer Sanctions Act 2013. They asked how many prosecutions actually have taken place, and how much justifiable back pay have exploited workers received. Another issue raised was the critical need for funds for personal support for trafficked women and their children. ACRATH’S forceful advocacy also focused on the establishment of a national compensation scheme.
- Amomah Kaduah Matilda SMI from the Upper East Region of Ghana joined the students and Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary at Holy Names Academy in Seattle USA, for a peace vigil on the Feast of Francis of Assisi. Sister Matilda is in the center, and to her right (left to right) are Rosemary Perisich SNJM and Mary Annette Dworshak SNJM, who coordinated the event.
- In Austria, the Salvatorian Sisters are one of six congregations who participate in SOLWODI (Solidarity with Women in Distress) which was established to provide protective housing and counseling services for victims of trafficking, forced prostitution, and sexual violence and exploitation. Patricia Erber SDS (picture, with two of the home’s children) is the chairwoman of SOLWODI Austria. In 2015 the 10 women were from Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania, and Nigeria. Another 30 women received referral services for counseling, legal assistance, medical care, or social services. Currently the residence is caring for 9 women and 6 children. A new shelter is being planned for the western part of Austria, and they are collaborating with an inter-congregational group of sisters (including Erika Moser SDS) who would like to start a Center in Hungary.