WASHINGTON - More than three dozen U.S. and British faith-based investment firms have banded together to get the Summer Olympics' major sponsors and tourist hotels to sign a pledge saying they will work to stop human trafficking around the Olympic Games.

So far, the campaign has had some success.

Published in Features

VATICAN CITY - By partnering with law enforcement agencies, the Catholic Church and other organizations can help victims identify human traffickers and bring them to justice.

"The Catholic Church has a huge role to play with 1.1 billion Catholics across the world. With their networks they can make (society) hostile to traffickers and be safe havens for victims," said a young British woman who was tricked into prostitution in Italy.

The woman, who goes by the pseudonym Sophie Hayes for her protection, was one of a number of speakers at a Vatican conference on combating human trafficking May 8.

Published in International

OTTAWA - A bill that would make it possible for Canada to prosecute human trafficking offenses committed by citizens or permanent residents outside the country has passed in the House of Commons.

Conservative MP Joy Smith's private member's Bill C-310 passed a third reading vote April 27 and has gone on to the Senate.

Published in Canada

OTTAWA - Conservative MP Joy Smith expressed shock the NDP's playing of partisan politics has prevented debate on anti-trafficking Bill C-310 and delayed the bill from going immediately to the Senate.

Smith had expected the NDP would support her bill as it had at every previous stage. Bill C-310 had unanimously passed through the Justice Committee with no recommendations.

"I am absolutely stunned by this," said Smith. "Bill C-310 will strengthen Canada's efforts to combat human trafficking and this should not be a partisan matter. I have worked so hard to secure the support of all parties and have appreciated the support of all MPs for this bill up until today."

Published in Canada

Legalizing prostitution won’t make women safer, a sex-trade survivor told about 200 women and 20 men at a one-day conference on human trafficking.

Just two days before the Ontario Court of Appeal released a ruling that legalized brothels while maintaining laws against pimping in the Criminal Code, Bridget Perrier told conference delegates the myth of prostitution as a choice must be challenged. The March 24 conference was organized by themy Loretto Sisters.

“We always hear that prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. I always say it’s the world’s oldest oppression,” Perrier said. “Really, it’s paid rape. It’s child abuse.”

Published in Features

Brazil is now the world’s sixth largest economy and economists project it will be the fifth largest by the end of this year. It has an advanced aerospace industry, some of the most sophisticated telecommunications companies in the world and more billionaires than Japan. It also has slaves.

Between 25,000 and 40,000 Brazilians every year are trafficked into slavery. On average, government anti-slavery teams free 4,500 people per year.

“When I went to Brazil for the first time (in the 1990s) I was far from imagining that slavery was still existing,” said French-born Dominican Brother Xavier Plassat. “For me it was a discovery.”

Published in Features

TORONTO - For 400 years Loretto Sisters have been working to raise the dignity of women. It started with girls’ schools in 17th-century England, but now the Sisters want to take on criminals who sell girls into sexual slavery.

“We have to read the signs of the times, so we have to say ‘What would (Loretto founder Mary Ward) think was needed now if she were here today?’ ” said Sr. Maria Lanthier, co-ordinator of a March 24 conference on human trafficking. “This is one of the biggest issues that keeps women down — trafficking. It’s the second biggest criminal industry in the world.”

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA