International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking

February 8th, 2017 is International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking. Pope Francis has issued the following statement for the day:

“Dear brothers and sisters, today, 8 February, the liturgical memorial of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese Sister, who as a child had the traumatic experience of being a victim of trafficking, the international Union of Superior Generals of Religious Institutes have promoted the Day of Prayer and Reflection against trafficking in persons. I encourage all those who are committed to helping men, women and children enslaved, exploited, abused as tools of pleasure and often tortured and mutilated. I hope that those who have responsibilities in government will seriously strive to eliminate the causes of this shameful scourge, a scourge unworthy of civilized society. Let each of us be committed to being a voice for our brothers and sisters, humiliated and deprived of their dignity. Let us all pray together.”

According to the International Labour Organisation:

  • Worldwide there are 168 million children in child labour. More than half of them, 85 million, are in hazardous work.
  • 20 million child workers are employed in factories that make garments, carpets, toys, matches and hand-rolled cigarettes. Agriculture remains by far the most important sector where child labourers’ can be found (98 million, or 59%), but the problems are not negligible in services (54 million) and industry (12 million) – mostly in the informal economy. Most children work in farms that produce consumer products such as cocoa, coffee, cotton, rubber and other crops.
  • Asia and the Pacific still have the largest numbers (almost 78 million or 9.3% of child population), but Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region with the highest incidence of child labour (59 million, over 21% of child population).
  • There are 13 million children in child labour in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the Middle East and North Africa there are 9.2 million.
  • Every year, 22,000 children die in work-related accidents. 9% are in industry, including mining and quarrying, manufacturing and construction.
  • The number of children involved in armed conflicts has increased to about 300,000 over the past decade. 14 is the average age of a child soldier. 40% of child soldiers are girls.

According to UNICEF:

  • 2 million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade.
  • Millions more children are likely exploited in prostitution or pornography each year around the world, most of the time lured or forced into these situations through false promises and limited knowledge about the risks.
  • About 1 in 10 girls under the age of 20 have been subjected to forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point of their lives.


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