By Most Reverend Rutilio del Riego
Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of San Bernardino
(En Español) Human trafficking is modern-day slavery—which actually exists here in America, even though 150 years ago we formally abolished slavery and involuntary servitude with the 13th amendment to the U.S. constitution. Today, human beings are trafficked for labor, organ harvesting and sexual exploitation. However, most cases of human trafficking involve forced prostitution of girls and young women. On average, a girl is 12 to 14 years old when she is first trafficked, and she is often an immigrant, a runaway and/or a victim of sexual abuse. Those caught up in this despicable practice suffer alienation, disease, torture and even death. It is, quite obviously, a severe violation of our belief as Roman Catholics in the dignity of every human person. We are called to come to the aide of the poor and vulnerable, and to stop others who seek to exploit them.