Every year in the U.S., half a million children are reported missing. Any one of those children who is not found within 48 hours has a very high risk of being trafficked. Defenseless young people can easily fall prey to criminals who lure or force them into the sex trade. The average age of entry into human trafficking is between 12 and 14 years old.
At “high-demand” events dominated by men, including the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, or Indy 500, young women and girls are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking. Predators lure them and exploit them into prostitution. Since the majority of trafficking occurs in hotels or motels, a simple intervention: a bar of soap, hand-labeled with a red band and the National Human Trafficking Hotline number (888-373-7888), could save any one of them from this horrific fate.
On March 30, survivor Theresa Flores, who grew up in suburban Michigan and endured two years of enslavement for sex, told her shocking story at Our Mother of Good Counsel Convent in Chicago. Following her presentation, Felician Sisters and Associates around the province volunteered to support her organization: SOAP (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution). Now an educator and advocate, Flores realized that a bar of soap in a hotel room could help to reach — and potentially save — other victims. Volunteers offer the soap to motels, along with training about how to identify and report human trafficking when they see it in their establishments. Since its inception in 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has identified over 82,000 cases of human trafficking, involving nearly 165,000 victims.
In Lodi, NJ local minister Sr. Elizabeth Marie Morley welcomed Felician Associates to the Immaculate Conception Convent for an afternoon of volunteer work. Organized by Felician Associates Area Coordinator, Sr. Mary Angelica Smialowicz, Associates and Sisters affixed “help labels” on 3,000 small bars of soap and facial towels. Sr. Angelica expressed her appreciation that Felicians around the country, from Chicago to Enfield, were taking parallel steps to fight human trafficking and to support its victims.
Felician Sisters of North America is one of the 15 founding members of the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, which works to promote awareness regarding human trafficking; to exchange best practices in advocacy for and empowerment of survivors of human trafficking, to recommend actions to counter human trafficking, and to share information about survivor services. Find out how you can get involved »