The World Day of Prayer and Awareness against Trafficking in Persons: 8 February 2022

St Josephine Bakhita was born in Darfur in Sudan in 1869. She was kidnapped and sold into slavery as a child in February 1877, and for 12 years was bought, sold and transported multiple times until declared free by an Italian court in 1890. Given St Josephine Bakhita’s experience of slavery and trafficking, the World Day of Prayer and Awareness against Trafficking in Persons is held on her feast-day on 8 February each year. This year’s theme is “The Power of Care: Women, Economics, Human Trafficking.”


Human Trafficking: A Profit-Driven Crime

This year’s theme recognizes that human trafficking, whether for sexual exploitation or forced labour, is fundamentally an economic enterprise intended to make profits for traffickers, and driven by supply-and-demand. The covid-19 pandemic has increased the “business” of human trafficking, and exacerbated the situations of vulnerability on which human trafficking thrives.


What is Trafficking for Labour Exploitation?

Trafficking for labour exploitation can be understood as the range of activities involved when a person uses force, fraud, or coercion to obtain the labour or services of another person. There are three essential elements in labour trafficking: the act, the means, and the purpose. The “act” is when the trafficker recruits, harbours, transports, provides, or obtains a person for labour or services. The “means” include use of force, threat of force, fraud, debt manipulation, psychological coercion, or other forms of coercion. Finally, the “purpose” is to secure labour or services:  there is no limit on the location or type of industry. Importantly, a victim need not be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within the definition of human trafficking.


Labour Trafficking and Supply Chains

Although a criminal activity, labour trafficking leaks into the regular economy. All too often, goods produced by victims of labour trafficking are able to enter the long and complex supply chains upon which big business relies, and end up in the regular economy. In 2021 the US Dept. of Labour identified 156 items from 77 countries produced by child or forced labour, from minerals, such as gold, to cotton, palm-oil, and food-stuff such as fish, coffee, chocolate and more.

To learn more, download the first of a two-part SMA Justice Briefing on human trafficking and supply chains here:


The Need for Legislation and Regulation

Clearly, there is a need for greater vigilance on the part of corporations to ensure that goods produced by forced labour do not enter their supply chains. However, such human rights checks incur a cost and without regulation to require all corporations to do so, those companies who choose not to incur the extra cost are granted a competitive advantage. To this end, in 2014, the UN Human Rights Council began a process to draft an international binding treaty to regulate transnational corporations that will lead to mandatory human rights due diligence. Last year, in March 2021, the European Parliament approved a proposal for an EU Directive on Mandatory Human Rights, Environmental and Good Governance Due Diligence. It is hoped that this initiative will lead to new legislation.

In Ireland, the Irish Coalition for Business and Human Rights are calling on the Government to support and actively progress such legislation.


OLA-SMA Webinar: How Supply Chains Facilitate Human Trafficking – We All Bear Responsibility

To learn more about human trafficking and supply chains, as well as the importance of international regulation and how we can play a part, you are invited to attend the OLA-SMA webinar, “How Supply Chains Facilitate Human Trafficking – We All Bear Responsibility”. The webinar takes place at 7pm on Tuesday, 15 February. We will hear from Keith Adams of the Jesuits Centre for Faith and Justice and from representatives of the Irish Coalition for Business and Human Rights.

You can register here:


Marathon of Prayer against Human Trafficking

Today, 8 February, the international anti-human trafficking network, Thalita Kum, invite you to participate in an eight-hour online Marathon of Prayer and Awareness against Trafficking in Persons. You can tune in and participate in the marathon of prayer in the language of your choice. Simply follow one of the links below:


Prayer to St Josephine Bakhita 

St. Josephine Bakhita, you were sold into slavery as a child
and endured untold hardship and suffering.
Once liberated from your physical enslavement,
you found true redemption in your encounter with Christ and his Church.
O St. Bakhita, assist all those who are trapped in a state of slavery;
Intercede with God on their behalf
so that they will be released from their chains of captivity.
Those whom man enslaves, let God set free.
Provide comfort to survivors of slavery
and let them look to you as an example of hope and faith.
Help all survivors find healing from their wounds.
We ask for your prayers and intercessions for those enslaved among us.


Read more about Human Trafficking on our website: