MIAMI, Feb. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On this year's anniversary of the passage of the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the bishops of Florida called upon parishioners to engage in educational, public information and advocacy efforts to help victims and put a stop to increasing human trafficking cases. U.S. State Department figures estimate that 600,000 – 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across countries and that 14,500 – 17,500 of them are trafficked annually into the U.S. Women and children are lured with promises of money and are later forced to prostitution, labor exploitation and pornography. Runaway children are particularly vulnerable. Florida's victims are usually from the Caribbean and Central America.
The Florida Catholic Conference has established a task force urging active Catholics to watch for any signals, mostly those in rural areas of Florida. An ad hoc committee, comprised of key individuals in law enforcement, law, education and non-profits provide expertise in working with the targeted audiences. A major purpose is to work with institutions that implement educational activities and strategies. Miami's St. Thomas University, internationally recognized for its Law School's Intercultural Human Rights degrees and initiatives to fight human trafficking, is leading the way as the archdiocesan university.
Its President, Monsignor Franklyn Casale, and School of Law Professor Dr. Roza Pati are members of the Florida Conference of Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Human Trafficking Awareness, with Dr. Pati chairing the Subcommittee on Education. In this capacity the University is developing modules to be incorporated in the curriculum of the Catholic schools at all levels. Additionally, St, Thomas is involving students and student organizations in several activities to raise awareness on human trafficking. A list of activities is available.
Additionally, Monsignor Casale will be the keynote speaker of the international panel on human trafficking in Toronto, Canada, on March 2-3, 2011, at the Annual National Conference of the National Honor Society of Criminal Justice, Alpha Phi Sigma. This is part of the Annual Conference of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. "The Church grieves for the thousands of victims of this horrific crime against the dignity of the human being. We must remember, however, that human trafficking, like many societal ills, cannot be curtailed in a couple of months, so the St. Thomas community has embarked on an ongoing Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign. It's not an easy task, but since 2001, St. Thomas University, guided by its Catholic principles, is committed to implementing measures to work towards ending this devastating scourge on human dignity."
Dr. Roza Pati will also be presenting at the March Toronto conference. Meanwhile, she is busy directing student activities to help stop human trafficking during spring of 2011. On January 11, 2011 - Human Trafficking Awareness Day – The International Law Society and the Graduate Program in Intercultural Human Rights hosted an interactive movie and discussion event. February activities included "Nothing Says Love Like Free Trade". Typically, for Valentine's Day, a number of student organizations sell candy and chocolates as a fundraising venture. This year, the Intercultural Human Rights team encouraged all student groups to purchase free trade "slave free" chocolate and candy, by providing information about companies reported to engage in deplorable and forced labor conditions for their workers. Students designed postcards to be mailed and signed by students before February 17, 2011 as part of a "Raise the Bar" campaign to encourage Hershey Corporation to use fair trade practices in its chocolate manufacturing industry. Other spring activities included a Pub Night Debate: The Interconnection between Sporting Events and Human Trafficking at the Don Shula's Steakhouse 2, Participants were encouraged to bring independent research or additional articles for discussion, and the group has provided an article entitled, "Police Watch for Sex Trafficking Ahead of the Big Game." STU's Black History Month events include "Minorities and Human Trafficking"(February 17- 18, 2011),highlighting the relationship between minority groups and human trafficking. For additional information on St. Thomas School of Law programs, please visit www.stu.edu/lawschool.
SOURCE St. Thomas University