Human Trafficking

In their earliest constitutions the Sisters of Saint Joseph provided refuge and hope for women in dire circumstances, who were sexually exploited or used as slaves, forms of human trafficking in the 17th century. Today, human trafficking is twenty-first century slavery and it involves transporting persons, primarily women and children, within or across borders for sexual or labor exploitation. This includes forced work in prostitution, exotic dancing, domestic work, sweatshops, the agricultural sector and the construction and service industries. An estimated 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year.

Trafficking in persons is more lucrative than trafficking in drugs because a person can be sold over and over. Worldwide, human trafficking is a business that is worth $32 billion and that feeds on the demand for cheap labor. As such, it is closely linked to the excessive profit-seeking that is at the heart of the global financial and economic model. Sex trafficking is one of the most profitable industries of organized crime.

The Congregations of Saint Joseph call on the international community to scrutinize the broader situation concerning the demand for cheaper goods and services. Often the demand for cheaper goods leads to the exploitation of workers, including child slavery that occurs in the cocoa and cotton industries.

Knowing the complexity of the human trafficking issue, we recognize the importance of collaboration between Government agencies and civil society. Non-Governmental organizations with international structures and connections work at the grass-roots level and have a vital role to play in the area of awareness-raising, advocacy and the provision of information to Governments on issues faced by the survivors of human trafficking.

To learn more, click on these links:


Polaris Project

U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking

Bakhita Initiative