It is the belief of people who know these things that the awareness of, sensitivity to, and advocacy around the trafficking of human persons (buying, selling, exploiting women, men and children) has been due, in large part to the “early adopter” stance of women religious across the globe in the fight against trafficking. We RDCs have been a part of that for more than 13 years.
Back in the early 2000’s a handful of women religious from the tri-state area gathered in whatever meeting spaces were available to share information about human trafficking and explore what might be done to eradicate it. Our conversations led us to take the lessons learned from the Apostolic Visitation about strength in numbers, and we began to shape a way to share human and financial resources. The result that emerged is the Coalition Of Religious Congregations To Stop The Trafficking Of Persons (CRC-STOP) with 35 women’s and two men’s congregations, representing 25,000 women and men religious.
In those 13 years we RDCs have had a hand in establishing 3 safe houses for trafficked women, have done hundreds of presentation to civic organizations, schools and parish groups, have pushed, successfully, a number of legislative efforts at the state and national level to protect victims and exact a high price from perpetrators. We have planned and implemented three major conferences. Among the RDCs who have represented our community in all of this are Carol Wagner, Clare Arenholz, and Sue Becker who is the current Coalition co-chair.
CRC-STOP is a member of US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, a coalition of coalitions, individual congregations, and individuals. (See uscsaht.org for more information.). We believe that women religious are another iteration of Margaret Mead’s statement about not doubting “that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Our particular group stands at a crossroad – that place where successful completion of some major goals coupled with dwindling energy intersect with the emergence of all kinds of anti-trafficking groups in the metro area. We are grateful to Mary Jane Deodati, RDC for sharing her time, talent, helping us assess where have been, and where we can and should go. There will be more to tell in the next few months. Stay tuned.