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Human Trafficking

Living in the Shadows: Religion's Response to Human Trafficking

By CBSnews.com

To learn more about United Methodist Women's work to end human trafficking, please visit our Human Trafficking Action page.

Living in the Shadows: Religion's Response to Human Trafficking, a CBS Interfaith Special, will be broadcast Sunday, Dec. 15, on the CBS Television Network. Please check your local station for exact time.

UPDATE: The CBS Special will air again on December 21. Check your local CBS station.

This program looks at the issue of human trafficking and what faith communities are doing to raise awareness and empower survivors. The International Labor Organization conservatively estimates that worldwide (including the U.S.) there are 21 million enslaved people. Labor and sex trafficking is the third largest illegal “business” in the world, after drug and arms trafficking. 

We hear from Rev. David Schilling (United Methodist) Senior Program Director of Human Rights and Resources for the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). He addresses how his organization is raising the awareness of corporations about global supply chain abuses. Since 2010, members of ICCR have focused on sex trafficking and any forms of forced labor in the travel and tourism industry.

In the months leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey, hundreds of volunteers will approach hotels in the New York metropolitan area to raise awareness about potential sex trafficking in their establishments. Spearheading the project is Caldwell Dominican Sister, Patricia Daly, OP, Executive Director of Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment and a member of ICCR.  We look in on a volunteer training session at St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church on the upper eastside of Manhattan.  Attending were high school students from St. Ignatius Loyola, other local faith leaders, and concerned community members.

We speak with Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, Director of North American Programs for T’ruah. Among the organization’s human rights causes are domestic and farmworker trafficking.  Rabbi Kahn-Troster talks to us about their “Tomato Rabbi” campaign on behalf of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a grassroots advocacy organization based in Florida.

The Damayan Migrant Workers Association is a grassroots advocacy organization in the New York and New Jersey area led by domestic workers. We hear from founding member Linda Oalican and campaign and case manager Leah Obias about why the support of the faith community has been so important to their organization. Staff community organizer Lydia Catina Amaya tells us about her years as a trafficked domestic worker and how her own experiences inform her community organizing. We also spoke to Karen Prudente, a member of United Methodist Women, about introducing the Damayan to her organization and why human trafficking is an important topic for the faith community. Later, Susie Johnson, United Methodist Women Executive for Public Policy, confirms the role people of faith have in fighting this terrible crime.

In January of this year, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops created a pilot program called the Amistad Movement. We speak to Hilary Chester, Associate Director for Anti-Trafficking Services. She tells us how this new educational program works with at-risk communities in identifying those most vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking, particularly new immigrants. Immigrants and the poor are the people who most often work in industries not highly regulated such as agriculture, domestic care and hospitality.

John P. Blessington is the executive producer and Liz Kineke is the producer.  This documentary seeks input from clergy, scholars and others of the represented religions.  It is produced in cooperation with a consortium of Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish organizations, The Islamic Society of North America, and other interfaith organizations.

Following the Dec. 15 air date this program may be viewed again at www.cbsnews.com/religionandculture

Last Updated: 03/20/2014

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