World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking

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Kidnapped and Sold into Slavery

Posted in January 28th, 2015

Josephine Bakhita NovenaNovena Prayer to Saint Bakhita

Pope Francis has declared February 8th,the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, to be the World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking.

Josephine Bakhita was born in 1869, in a small village in the Darfur region of Sudan. She was kidnapped while working in the fields with her family and subsequently sold into slavery. Her captors asked for her name but she was too terrified to remember so they named her “Bakhita,” which means “fortunate” in Arabic.

Retrospectively, Bakhita was very fortunate, but the first years of her life do not necessarily attest to it. She was tortured by her various owners who branded her, beat and cut her. In her biography she notes one particularly terrifying moment when one of her masters cut her 114 times and poured salt in her wounds to ensure that the scars remained.  “I felt I was going to die any moment, especially when they rubbed me in with the salt,” Bakhita wrote.

After being sold a total of five times, Bakhita was purchased by Callisto Legnani, the Italian consul in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.  Two years later, he took Bakhita to Italy to work as a nanny for his colleague, Augusto Michieli.  He, in turn, sent Bakhita to accompany his daughter to a school in Venice run by the Canossian Sisters.

Bakhita felt called to learn more about the Church, and was baptized with the name “Josephine Margaret.” In the meantime, Michieli wanted to take Josephine and his daughter back to Sudan, but Josephine refused to return.

The disagreement escalated and was taken to the Italian courts where it was ruled that Josephine could stay in Italy because she was a free woman.  Slavery was not recognized in Italy and it had also been illegal in Sudan since before Josephine had been born.

Josephine remained in Italy and decided to enter Canossians in 1893. She made her profession in 1896 and was sent to Northern Italy, where she dedicated her life to assisting her community and teaching others to love God.

She was known for her smile, gentleness and holiness. She even went on record saying, “If I were to meet the slave-traders who kidnapped me and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands, for if that did not happen, I would not be a Christian and Religious today.”

St. Josephine was beatified in 1992 and canonized shortly after on October 2000 by Pope John Paul II. She is the first person to be canonized from Sudan and is the patron saint of the country.

Download your copy of Novena to Saint Bakhita which has been prepared by the Canossian Sisters.

Fight the Trade in Human Lives

Posted in January 28th, 2015

Joint Statement from ACBC & ACRATH

media bannerThe Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ACBC) and ACRATH have released a media statement for the World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking.  In this statement Bishop Eugene Hurley, Chairman of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life said, ‘It is imperative that we begin a journey of personal change when we mark the 8 February. Human trafficking exists in Australia and on this planet because we allow it to exist. Let us together, commit to eradicate this affront to our humanity.’  Sr Anne Tormey rsm, President of ACRATH, commented ‘The life of St Josephine Bakhita reminds us of the assault to the dignity, and of the suffering endured by every trafficked person.’ Let us take up the challenge of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Social Sciences from November 2013 when they declared ‘it is our moral imperative to make ours the last generation that has to fight the trade in human lives’.

Download the Media Statement and Homily Notes. For further information click here.


Stop Trafficking!

Posted in January 22nd, 2015

Anti-Human Trafficking Newsletter Vol 13 No 1

IStop Traffickingn this first issue of Stop Trafficking for 2015 you can read about faith leaders calling for an end to human trafficking, human trafficking of minors through social networking, shopping and slavery and other very informative articles.

Download your copy here.

Trafficking in the Tea Industry

Posted in January 22nd, 2015

Assam tea gardensJoin the Campaign

Everywhere around the world people drink tea. Tea is big business in India.Recent research has shown that the labour practices and working conditions on the tea plantations of Assam, a north-eastern state of India, are fuelling unique forms of vulnerability to human trafficking. Men, women and children are being deceived with promises of a new life and great work opportunities and are ultimately being trafficked and exploited within cities across India. Tata Global Beverages is one of the largest tea companies in the world. They provide us with such iconic brands such as Tetley and are the major shareholder of the APPL tea plantations in Assam. Tata has released a plan to address human trafficking.  STOP THE TRAFFIK is asking Tata to do more by showing leadership to bring about an end to human trafficking in the tea industry.  Three requests have been put to them:

  1. Be transparent about the steps the company is taking in this area.
  2. Produce a detailed action plan with clear deadlines and financial investment towards specific commitments to reduce workers’ vulnerability to modern slavery.
  3. Lead other industry players in a joint effort to tackle the root causes of the problem.

ACRATH invites you to take part in this campaign by signing an online petition.  Read more…

Youth Symposium Against Human Trafficking

Posted in January 20th, 2015

Pope & YouthInternational Declaration Issued

Young people from different faiths and different backgrounds gather at the Vatican in November 2014 for a symposium on Human Trafficking. The event was jointly organised by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the interfaith Global Freedom Network and the Argentinian anti-trafficking association ‘Vinculos En Red’. Young survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation were among those who spoke at the event.  The symposium issued a declaration in which they stated “human beings are not objects that can be commercialized” and they called on all young people “to break the cultural paradigms that condemn people to all kinds of exploitation.” (Photo:  Read more…

Daily Prayer to end Human TraffickingFeast of St Josephine Bakhita, 8th February

St Josephine Bakhita was born in Southern Sudan in 1869. As a young girl, she was kidnapped and sold into slavery. She was treated brutally by her captors as she was sold and resold. She did not remember her name: Bakhita, which means “fortunate one,” was the name given to her by her kidnappers.  Her feastday, 8th Febrauary, has been named as the World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking. To learn more about the life of Josephine Bakhita download a reflection sheet or view a YouTube clip about her life.

We are invited to prepare for this day with daily prayer as per the attached graphic prepared by the Sisters of St Joseph of Orange. Download a copy of the graphic here.

The Canossian Sisters have prepared a novena that can used to reflect on the life of St Josephine Bakhita and pray through her intercession.  Download a copy of the  Novena to Saint Bakhita.

Proclamation by President Barack Obama

Barack ObamaPresident Barack Obama has proclaimed January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in U.S.A.  He commented that more needs to be done in the US and across the globe to uphold values of dignity and freedom for all people.   He urges every citizen to “take action by speaking up and insisting that the clothes they wear, the food they eat, and the products they buy are made free of forced labor. Business and non-profit leaders can ensure their supply chains do not exploit individuals in bondage.”  (Photo: Read more…

World Day of Peace 2015

Posted in January 1st, 2015

WorldDayofPeaceNo Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters

As we celebrate World Day of Peace 2015 let us, inspired by the words of Pope Francis, be peacemakers working against the exploitation of our fellow human beings. Pope Francis began his message for World Day of Peace message by  offering “heartfelt wishes of peace to every man and woman, to all the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious leaders” and praying “for an end to wars, conflicts and the great suffering caused by human agency, by epidemics past and present, and by the devastation wrought by natural disasters”.  He reminds us that our relationships should be marked by justice, love and respect for the dignity and freedom of all people.  Tragically, however, there are some people in our world today who treat others as objects instead of as human persons created in God’s image.

Pope Francis invites us “to practice acts of fraternity towards those kept in a state of enslavement. Let us ask ourselves, as individuals and as communities, whether we feel challenged when, in our daily lives, we meet or deal with persons who could be victims of human trafficking, or when we are tempted to select items which may well have been produced by exploiting others.” (Photo:

Download the Pope’s message for World Day of Peace 2015 here.

Ambassador to Holy See Visits ACRATH

Posted in December 14th, 2014

Ambassador John McCarthy KCSG in Melbourne

Ambassador at ACRATHAmbassador John McCarthy KCSG, Australian Embassy to the Holy See, visited ACRATH at Albert Park, Melbourne on Friday 12 December 2014.   ACRATH members had the opportunity to share with him the organisation’s objectives and current activities.  The Ambassador responded by sharing with the group the ‘Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery’ (Tuesday 2 December 2014), and a booklet on the ‘Global Freedom Network’.

This was a very positive meeting, affirming the strong leadership of Pope Francis and the work of ACRATH to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking.   At the meeting, one of the ACRATH members raised the global challenge of addressing the demand side of trafficking, the demand for cheap goods and the commodification of people.  After the meeting, ACRATH members discussed the challenge to our country to ensure slavery-proofing supply chains.   Members also discussed preparation of materials for the Australian Catholic Church’s celebration of the feast of St Josephine Bakhita on 8 February 2015. (Photo: Ambassador John McCarthy (3rd from left) with Members of ACRATH, Albert Park, Melbourne)

No Longer Slaves, But Brothers and Sisters

Posted in December 11th, 2014

pope francisPope Francis’ Message for World Day of Peace

Pope Francis’ message for World Day of Peace – 1 January 2015- is entitled “No longer slaves, but brothers and sisters.”  In this message we are reminded that we are called to live in relationships that are inspired by by justice and love so that the dignity, freedom and autonomy of all people is acknowledged and respected.  The Pope comments “Tragically, the growing scourge of man’s exploitation by man gravely damages the life of communion and our calling to forge interpersonal relations marked by respect, justice and love. This abominable phenomenon, which leads to contempt for the fundamental rights of others and to the suppression of their freedom and dignity, takes many forms. I would like briefly to consider these, so that, in the light of God’s word, we can consider all men and women ‘no longer slaves, but brothers and sisters.'”

The statement concludes with the following challenge: “We know that God will ask each of us: What did you do for your brother? (cf. Gen 4:9-10). The globalization of indifference, which today burdens the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters, requires all of us to forge a new worldwide solidarity and fraternity capable of giving them new hope and helping them to advance with courage amid the problems of our time and the new horizons which they disclose and which God places in our hands.” Download the Pope’s message here.



(C) 2011 ACRATH Inc - Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans