The IDPHT was first celebrated on the 8th. February 2015 at the desire of Pope Francis, who in 2014, requested the International Union of Superiors and of Superiors General (UISG / USG) to promote this day. The Secretary of State, responding to requests made by religious, who had been working for years to combat trafficking, gave approval to organizations that for years have celebrated Anti-Trafficking Day on this date.
SAINT JOSEPHINE BAKHITA
Born c. 1869 in Olgossa, Darfur, Sudan
Died 8 February 1947, Italy
Year of beatification 1992 (17 May)
Year of canonisation 2000 (1 October)
Feast Day 8 February
St Josephine Bakhita, also known as ‘Mother Moretta’ (our Black Mother) bore 144 physical scars throughout her life which were received after she was kidnapped at the age of nine and sold into slavery.
Dear brothers and sisters,
today, 8 February, is the Feast of St Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese nun, who as a child had the traumatic experience of being a victim of human trafficking. The Unions of Superiors and Superiors General of Religious Institutes have organized the Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking. I encourage those who work helping the men, women and children who are enslaved, exploited, abused as instruments of work or pleasure, who are often tortured and mutilated. It is my hope that government leaders may work decisively to remove the causes of this disgraceful scourge, it is a scourge unworthy of society. May each one of us feel committed to being a voice for our brothers and sisters, who have been humiliated in their dignity. Let us all pray …
(Pope Francis: Angelus Prayer February 8, 2015)
Human trafficking is an integral part of “this economy”: victims of trafficking are as “commodities” falling into the mechanisms of a globalization ruled by financial speculation and competition spurred by below-cost pricing. Hence the need for a “structural and global” perspective of human trafficking so as to dismantle those wicked mechanisms that fuel the supply and demand of “people to exploit”, because the very heart of the economy is sick.
An aphorism attributed to Oscar Wilde states that the cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing, this economy seems dominated by cynicism: not only does the market fix the price of commodities, services and persons, but also what is even more appalling is that the price sets their value. Businesses themselves are victim of this, because financial markets rank them based on their share price, not on the added value produced by their human capital.
Human trafficking is only the tip of an iceberg, the magnifying lens of distress caused by the dominating neoliberalism that relies on a (false) idea of economic freedom that considers any ethical, social and political circumstance as irrelevant and a hurdle. However, the opposite is true, in fact, an economy without human trafficking is an economy that values and cares for the human being and nature, is inclusive and does not exploit the most vulnerable.
This perspective has led the International Committee of the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking to take part in “The economy of Francesco”: a large movement of young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers convened by Pope Francis from all over the world to share ideas and plan initiatives for promoting integral and sustainable human development in the spirit of Francis.
Read more here.