Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking.

It happens here. But we can stop it.


Proclaiming Liberty to Captives

Proclaiming Liberty to Captives is an initiative of the Maryland Catholic Conference and the Bishops of Maryland to partner with The Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force and local Human Trafficking Response organizations to raise awareness of human trafficking and direct people of faith to action. 

The Maryland Catholic Conference, together with the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force and local partners, is hosting free info sessions at parishes across the state to help raise awareness of human trafficking.

The evil of human trafficking is an international, national and local scourge, and a grave violation of the dignity and freedom of all its victims. And Maryland is not immune from this evil. Human trafficking includes both labor and sex trafficking, and rivals the global drug industry in its scope and profits, affecting the lives of countless victims from all over the world.

As people of faith, the grave injustice of human trafficking cries out for a response. As our bishops remind us: "The Gospel calls us to break this yoke of modern-day slavery by raising awareness about the scope of this problem and doing all that we can as Catholics to recognize, set free, embrace and empower our brothers and sisters who are victims of human trafficking." 

Read the full statement by Maryland's Bishops HERE.

The Catholic understanding of the “right to life” is rooted in its understanding of the fifth commandment, “You shall not kill.” The Church’s deep and multifaceted understanding of this commandment includes a respect for bodily integrity, which states: “Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2297). Additionally, Church social teaching “forbids acts or enterprises that… lead to the enslavement of human beings, to their being bought, sold and exchanged like merchandise, in disregard for their personal dignity. It is a sin against the dignity of persons and their fundamental rights to reduce them by violence to their productive value or to a source of profit” (CCC, #2455).

Human labor trafficking and sex trafficking activities directly violate its victims bodily integrity and inherent human dignity: the “reign of terror” associated with these activities’ psychological, physical, and spiritual effects are inherently opposed to a respect for life.  Unfortunately, this violation of human dignity is quickly becoming a very local problem: Maryland’s proximity to major transportation corridors and airports make it an attractive location for human trafficking, and trafficking activities in Maryland are on the rise: 2014 saw a 54 percent increase in the volume of victims assisted by the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, compared to the year before.

In the public square, the Church works to combat labor and sex trafficking through through its spiritual, charitable, and advocacy activities: on a local level, the Maryland Catholic Conference supports this mission through the joint efforts of the Respect for Life Department and Social and Economic Justice Department. Together, these offices jointly work to advocate for policies that weaken the trafficking economy, support its victims, and increase awareness.

National Human Trafficking Hotline

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.

Phone: 1-888-3737-888

How to Help

Pray: Pray for the victims, survivors of Human Trafficking and for their traffickers. Law enforcement, clergy, and mental health professionals also need your prayers for their work in identifying, rescuing, and restoring survivors. Ask your Pastor about conducting prayer walks around truck stops, motels and hotels, restaurants and churches.

Keep Informed: A variety of resources are available. Connect with the organizations listed above and others in Maryland and equip yourself by learning more about Human Trafficking.

Spread the Word: Human Trafficking hides behind silence. Talk to your friends and neighbors and share good information about Human Trafficking on social media and other media sources. Place the National Human Trafficking Hot Line cards and flyers in frequently visited businesses and community centers.  

Encourage: Please share this information with your Pastor and those in your community. Ask pastors, youth leaders, school officials, elected officials and local law enforcement to become active and fight against Human Trafficking. Request an info-session at your Parish! We will coordinate with your pastor to bring this awareness out to your community!

Become an advocate: Pope Francis teaches us that policy is the highest form of charity because it seeks the common good. Push for stronger state legislation and advocate for our brothers and sisters who are made victims of Human Trafficking. Join the Catholic Advocacy Network today to engage with your representatives in Maryland and to stay up to date on important Catholic news and policy that protects our most vulnerable. 

Make the difference: Reporting suspected trafficking or suspicious behaviors is a safe way to help both victims and law enforcement. 

"Whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed." ~ Gaudium et spes #27.