What were two major marches and a campaign in January about?

Women’s March on DC, March for Life, Human Trafficking Awareness.

None of these things is like the other, except that for the marches, hundreds of thousands of women and male sympathizers and advocates, of all ages, descended on Washington DC within a week of each other. While the effort to combat human trafficking was a month long awareness campaign. They got varying degrees of news coverage, and had core commonality: women.

And that tied them together in a ‘what’s wrong with this picture’ snapshot of division and dissent in America.

An Independent Journal Review writer captures it with little text and ample photographic proof of points.

A week after the Inauguration of Donald Trump, politically active women across America could choose to make themselves heard at two major rallies revolving around women’s issues. They could attend a pro-choice, feminist march known as the Women’s March or they could wait one week and attend the 44th annual pro-life, March for Life.

Some lucky few, such as myself, were able to attend both.

How were they different? She supplied ample proof in the photographs that they were diametrically opposite.

Take a look for yourself, perhaps you will agree.

The photos are lined up according to categories, and each type had comparative color photos to illustrate the point:

Young adults at both marches (photos) Examples of inclusion (photos) Signs at both marches (photos) Attire (photos) Speakers (photos) Men (photos)

The main reason for the 1st annual women’s march (photos) The Main reason for the 44th march for life (photos)

Then she concluded:

“Only one march persuaded me to attend again.”

Her reason was obvious, and made abundantly clear. (I don’t link to the article intentionally. Some of the graphics are vulgar and terribly undignified to the women and men who chose to portray themselves and make their graphic statements as they did. I choose not to make such disgrace more accessible.)

A writer who attended the March for Life turned up this past week in First Things with a first hand account that made admissions not often heard but painfully accurate in their incisive truths.

The voices proclaiming the “Forty-Fourth Annual March for Life” seemed to be celebrating an anniversary, not observing four-and-a-half decades of failure. If there was mourning at this event, it was hidden behind the banners and posters, behind the colorful sweatshirts of school groups, behind the cheers and prayers of the friendly crowds…

“This is the generation that will end abortion!” the speakers exclaim, every year. And every following year the marchers return, with equal enthusiasm and good cheer, as our national shame grows one year deeper.

But this year there was some justification for the enthusiasm. For the first time, a vice president visited the march, and the president tweeted his full support. One did not need to be a Trump supporter to applaud the administration’s reiterated promises to defund Planned Parenthood and appoint pro-life justices…

A week earlier, the Women’s March had formally committed itself to the abortion license, and anti-abortion women marching against Trump had found themselves heckled and marginalized. But at the March for Life, no efforts were made to police the ideology of the marchers. Feminists for Life, some stalwart Democrats for Life, and a pregnant woman carrying the quixotic poster: “End Abortion: Abolish Capitalism” walked side by side with the #MAGA caps and monarchists. All political differences faded in a cause greater than any government.

Since we must have a government, those of us who oppose abortion will listen to Trump’s promises. We will hope that he keeps them. But the enthusiasm I saw at the march last Friday, the cheerful and confident faces, was not the result of any recent election. It has been there for years, and will be as long as the fight against abortion continues.

And that will be for a while, since the major setbacks Planned Parenthood and the entire abortion industry and its backers suffered in Election 2016, in addition to the increase of common sense abortion restriction laws, and the undercover investigative series of videos revealing the marketing of baby body parts, has – somehow – helped the abortion giant mount a massive fundraising campaign. And use those funds and that marketing campaign push back against the federal government redirecting taxpayer funds away from abortion providers and toward federally qualified, comprehensive women’s health clinics.

All of which is aided by complicit big media, whose style books don’t allow for the ‘pro-life’ designation and haven’t for years. Or decades.

NPR is a good example.

The New York Times has plenty of examples, from this article using ‘anti-abortion march’ (as opposed to the Women’s March on Washington) in the headline of an article that opens with the words “For opponents of abortion…”

Which, interestingly, this NYT article did only slightly differently, using the headline ‘Abortion Foes Aim to Compete With Turnout for Women’s March’. Which also opens with the words “Opponents of abortion…” (And, note to NYT staff writers: The March for Life just held its 44th annual event, swelling each year into higher numbers of young activists joining the faithful annual attendees, making the whole event hundreds of thousands strong, and not competing with anybody. Though that was a revealing claim.)

And then there’s this post-March report in the Times declaring that “Pence Tells Anti-Abortion Marchers That ‘Life is Winning’, and again opening the article with the words “Abortion opponents…”, and used that wording in the text to talk about “opposition to abortion” to define a huge swath of America committed for four decades and growing, by what they oppose, and not propose.

Just saying. It’s so entrenched, so ingrained, so obvious, the bias.

But look who did that. This little blog post, off the beaten track of big media websites and spinoff blogs, written by a Dominican Brother to share experiences in the Dominican priory which happened to be situated just off the Mall of Washington and close to massive crowds assembled there for the Women’s March.

There were not enough restrooms set up for the Women’s March that took place in Washington, DC, the day after the presidential inauguration. I found this out while visiting the Dominican priory on the southern side of the National Mall, where I saw many people from the March looking around for a restroom. Observing the desperation of those outside, some friars kindly offered to let a dozen marchers use the public restrooms in the priory. But, unexpectedly, hundreds of people quickly formed a line seeking relief.

While I was interested in helping those in need, this small act of mercy became a source of anxiety. Not only was a large crowd descending on the priory, but with the people came many disagreeable signs, shirts, and hats, some of which had messages that were anti-Catholic, pro-abortion, vulgar, or even pornographic. Nevertheless, those carrying or wearing these things had the courtesy to cover them up. The fervor that may have animated the large crowd did not go so deep as to make people oblivious or rude to flesh-and-blood humans.

That’s great news. Br. Martin’s account gives hope that “we can often find common ground on many issues when we take the time to speak with others.”

I have had several conversations on radio with guests who are doing this in their daily work, as I am in mine, speaking with whoever will listen and speak in turn, and engage. Anyone open to dialogue, with ideas grounded in fact and reason, and propositions backed by resources, and offers to help in any way needed, free for the taking. Especially for those in crisis, trouble, or need of any kind.

January was Human Trafficking Awareness Month. But Wednesday was ‘International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking’ marked annually on 8 February, which falls on the feast of St. Josephine Bakita, who Pope Francis called an “enslaved, exploited and humiliated girl” who never lost hope, ended up a migrant in Europe, and became a nun.

Wednesday I featured a guest on radio who devotes his work to battling human trafficking and calls for “a new vigilance, a rising up, particularly of men who will love incredibly and sacrifically,” It was Australian musician Joel Smallbone, lead actor of PRICELESS, the top independent film on launch weekend last October, dramatically dealing with the issue of human trafficking in what turns out to be a drama about heroic love and sacrifice. Joel and his brother, Luke Smallbone, head the Grammy Award-winning band for KING & COUNTRY, and are releasing the film on DVD and On Demand February 14th from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, in time for Valentine’s Day.

Joel explains it’s a love story that emphasizes the value of women, building a movement on the “idea of respect and honor in relationship and women being priceless. What we’ve found in our beliefs as men is that people are made equal. No one is a commodity and everyone deserves to be loved and loved well.”

He told me that “women are being objectified for their body or their looks, but not loved for their inherent beauty,” and he called this “a blatant ideology” that unfortunately, enslaves so many people in America and the world.

I thought of those in the Women’s March in January, who marched through the streets of DC in costumes made to appear as ‘women’s private parts’, female genitalia, and the signs with vulgar messages. And wondered how they could not realize how they degraded themselves and other women, objectifying them and playing right into the “blatant ideology” of women as commodities.

As Br. Martin showed, we’ve got to try to speak with each other, and find common ground.

New York is concerned with nail salon workers’ health

But they’re missing the most important threat to their lives.

Nail salons proliferate across America. Probably much of Europe and the elite stops of the world as well. Speaking from the US, I can say they’re so ubiquitous, these strip mall, storefront shops are competing with established hair salons and day spas for business to a degree that’s had the bigger, established businesses worried for years. Even former big salon workers opening their own breakout small nail businesses are concerned, as much about sanitation and regulation as by competition. I knew this already from some scattered experiences with one of them, as a woman professional with an increasing public event schedule that required an encounter with such places for a more ‘polished’ appearance, when time allowed.

I also learned the story from the other side, when I either had to run into a strip mall shop for an impromptu visit without appointment for a hurried nail polish before a special event, or when I was surprised by a guest on human trafficking on the air on radio who turned the conversation to what goes on in strip mall nail salons. Most of these are run and/or staffed by Asian women and even young men, most to my knowledge are Vietnamese (at least in my area around Chicago). The atmosphere in the only shop I visited was ‘off’ for some reason, one that made me instinctively uncomfortable for some reason I couldn’t discern.

I was shocked when international human trafficking expert Liz Yore was on my show for headline news, and delved deeper into the issue raising the disturbing fact that many suburban nail salons in America are staffed by victims of human trafficking. As we delved into the topic, we got a caller from Minnesota, a member of the police force in his city who affirmed what we were saying and expressed gratitude that we were making it public. Law enforcement can only address problems that are suspected, reported or identified. That takes a community effort. But the community has to be aware in the first place. So we did all we could, in a few different radio shows, to address this, and continue to, in the many ways people are being victimized by traffickers.

So now, along comes news stories in big media on nail salons , and I’m hoping the truth is finally coming out about that hidden, dark secret keeping so many people enslaved. Turns out they’re about the health hazards of the products used in nail salons, and the working conditions and wages.

Like this New York Times article. It goes through the conditions of the salons, and the reactions of Korean and Hispanic workers in them, to the fact that regulations were finally being addressed, and they were finally being informed.

But overlooked in the story is still the darker one, of human trafficking. Liz Yore put together this list of questions, to help identify possible sites for follow up investigation. The warning signs she spoke of on my show fit the workers in the salon I dropped into a couple of times. Though I do simple nail polish myself these days, I think of the workers I encountered those times, and how uncomfortable it would be to ask them these questions.

Thinking through it further, I realize how unfortunate, unjust and possibly tragic it would be if customers knew the questions, but were too uncomfortable to ask.

‘Fifty Shades’ debuted. So what?

The film’s opening exposed a deep wound. It needs healing.

Whatever happens to the book and film franchise, the real life toll of human torture it exposes has to stay prominent in public debate and social action. It’s been in the shadows for far too long, and done incalculable damage.

There’s pornography addiction. Which this group of innovative human rights advocates calls ‘the new drug.’ The site is loaded with information and resources.

Dr. Peter Kleponis told me on radio that after spending nearly two decades in marriage counseling, something changed, and the reality of the scourge of pornography addiction started becoming more apparent and more urgent in the crises he found himself dealing with, though nobody would talk openly about it. That was eight years ago, and he’s been working on treatment for men and couples over those years.

Why the silence? Fear, shame, confusion, the mainstreaming of the porn culture. Which became more prominent with the release of this film. Look at this middle-school class project, worked into a crossword puzzle.

There’s the dismissive excuse that as long as people consent to what they’re doing, it’s nobody else’s business. But with cultural dysfunction, sometimes consent is not enough.

“As long as he or she is consenting, it’s OK.” No it’s not, because people consent all the time to practices that they know are destructive and this doesn’t make such practices right. First, people can be pressured by their culture or their peers into things that they know are harmful to them. The fear of being left out or laughed at can motivate the teenager to do drugs that are physiologically damaging to his body. He may know that they are harmful and that he will suffer consequences for doing them. But he doesn’t want his friends to think that he isn’t cool enough to do things that are physically risky. So he ‘consents’ in order to fit in. His ‘consent’ may seem voluntary but really he is being pressured by the people in his surroundings, and his fear of social rejection overcomes his better judgment. Women and men all the time are afraid of not fitting in or being part of the cool crowd. So they ‘consent’ to sexually exploitative practices that they know are damaging in order to be accepted. The sixteen-year-old girl ‘consents’ to sext pictures of her naked torso in order to fit in with the social climbers at school…

The point is that history is full of examples of mass cultural delusions. Just because large numbers of people think that something is right or intriguing or cool doesn’t make it in fact right or intriguing or cool. A democratic majority is a poor basis for a healthy sexual morality.

A lot of times my students these days tell me that they want to help stop the sexual trafficking industry. They are shocked by the idea of exploited women – girls, even – being made to do things that are predatory and damaging. Whenever they say this to me I always respond, “do you really want to do something to stop sex trafficking? Change yourself first before you try to change others. Don’t look at porn, don’t promote sexual practices that are exploitative of others, and don’t put money in the hands of people whose movies stir up a desire in the culture for the trafficked girls.” “Fifty Shades” is wrong because it is stirring up a desire in people for exploitative sexual practices. It makes people want to do things that enable predatory industries like sex trafficking to flourish.

This MSU study bears out the harm that comes from exposure to pop culture porn, like ‘Fifty Shades.’

Young adult women who read “Fifty Shades of Grey” are more likely than nonreaders to exhibit signs of eating disorders and have a verbally abusive partner, finds a new study led by a Michigan State University researcher. Further, women who read all three books in the blockbuster “Fifty Shades” erotic romance series are at increased risk of engaging in binge drinking and having multiple sex partners.

All are known risks associated with being in an abusive relationship, much like the lead character, Anastasia, is in “Fifty Shades,” said Amy Bonomi, the study’s lead investigator…

Compared to participants who didn’t read the book, those who read the first “Fifty Shades” novel were 25 percent more likely to have a partner who yelled or swore at them; 34 percent more likely to have a partner who demonstrated stalking tendencies; and more than 75 percent more likely to have used diet aids or fasted for more than 24 hours.
Those who read all three books in the series were 65 percent more likely than nonreaders to binge drink — or drink five or more drinks on a single occasion on six or more days per month — and 63 percent more likely to have five or more intercourse partners during their lifetime.

Bonomi, who has a doctoral degree in health services and a master’s in public health, said she is not suggesting the book be banned or that women should not be free to read whatever books they wish or to have a love life.

However, it’s important women understand that the health behaviors assessed in the study are known risk factors for being in a violent relationship.

And they don’t end up the way Hollywood portrays in this film series.

“They’re making out as if this caught on all by itself, but it wasn’t organic growth. There’s been a juggernaut of media behind this, and it’s selling to women an image that somehow if you love a sadist out of his (abuse) you’ll have a great life,” (Dr. Gail Dines) said.

“When in reality, how ’50 Shades’ would end is that she’s running for her life to a battered women’s shelter, with children in tow, she’s got her front teeth knocked out, she’s got cigarette burns up and down her arm…she’s living off the grid without a bank account or a cell phone, cause these sadists never let go.”

The media celebration of the books and movies shows an irresponsibility and an ignorance about how violence against women is perpetuated, Dines added.

“You have a media who’s celebrating this violence against women,” she said. “No other group would be celebrated when they’re beaten and tortured like this, it would be considered an outrage. For any other minority group, if you had a film that would eroticize them being violated, people would absolutely be tearing down the cinemas in the streets. And what do we have here? We have a massive media juggernaut promoting it.”

Dines, who is also a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston, said she believes “50 Shades of Grey” has also caught on because we live in a culture where pornography is considered acceptable.

“If you want to understand the popularity of this, you have to look at the way pornography has literally hijacked the way people think about sex and sexuality,” she said.

As a sociologist, Dines said she has seen a lot of research about the effects of pornography on the brains of boys and men. The younger someone becomes addicted to porn, the more difficult it is to break away, she said. Furthermore, regular viewing of pornography is re-shaping the way boys’ brains are forming.

“We’ve got 40 years of experimental psychology research which tells us that the more porn men look at, the more boys look at, the more they believe it,” she said. “The jury’s not out about that – that has been known in the science literature for years and years.”

There’s also plenty known by the international experts in human trafficking, like Elizabeth Yore, who tells me that the film ‘Fifty Shades’ portrays torture as romance, and helps predators groom their victims. Help stop this. Be alert to signals that it may be happening right around you.

And be aware of the porn effect. And resources available to eliminate it, and heal the wounds it causes, no matter how deep or dark they seem.

If all of this helps just one person, it will have served its purpose. And if ‘Fifty Shades’ has any redeeming value, it’s in opening this critically needed public discussion, exchange and forum for help to protect and restore human dignity.

Vatican wants global attention on abuse and dehumanization

Sunday’s first International Day of Prayer Against Human Trafficking is the latest in a series of actions.

This has been a hallmark of Francis’ papacy, this deep distress for victims of ‘the throwaway culture’ the widespread abuse of humans in so many terrible ways, met by (he warned) the ‘globalization of indifference,’ where people live ‘in bubbles.’ He said these things, in a stirring if not stunning homily, in his first apostolic journey outside Rome after being elected pope, on the small island of Lampedusa, destination for so many refugees who perished at sea under harsh conditions, many trafficked by profiteers. He said we fail to see these people, and asked, woefully, how it is that we could fail to see these people.

I wish to offer some thoughts to challenge people’s consciences, to lead them to reflection and a concrete change of heart”.

“’Adam, where are you?’ This is the first question God poses to man after his sin. Adam lost his bearings, his place in creation because he thought he could be powerful, able to control everything, to be God. Harmony was lost, man errs and this error occurs over and over again also in relationships with others. The ‘other’ who is no longer a brother or sister to be loved, but simply another person who disturbs our lives and our comfort. God asks a second question, ‘Cain, where is your brother?’ The illusion of being powerful, of being as great as God, even of being God Himself, leads to a whole series of errors, a chain of death, even to the spilling of a brother’s blood! God’s two questions echo even today, as forcefully as ever. How many of us, myself included, have lost our bearings; we are no longer attentive to the world in which we live … we do not take care of that which God created for all of us, and we are no longer capable even of looking after each other. And when humanity as a whole loses its bearings, it results in tragedies like the one we have witnessed.

This homily and its message laid groundwork that connected to Francis’ longtime concerns for the castoffs of society.

Today no-one in our world feels responsible; we have lost a sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters; we have fallen into the hypocrisy of the priest and the Levite whom Jesus described in the parable of the Good Samaritan: we see our brother half dead on the side of the road, perhaps we say to ourselves: ‘poor soul…!’, and then go on our way; it’s not our responsibility, and with that we feel reassured. The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalisation of indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others, it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it is none of my business. The globalisation of indifference makes us all ‘unnamed’, responsible yet nameless and faceless…

And meanwhile, human trafficking has grown as a global ‘industry’ and it has become what is often referred to, correctly, as the new slavery. Like in this post about ‘Buying and Selling People’, reported by Caritas, a Catholic Church mission.

Pope Francis said last December, “Trafficking in human persons is a crime against humanity. We must join forces to free the victims and to stop this ever more aggressive crime, which threatens not only individual persons, but also the foundational values of society, as well as international security and justice, along with the economy, family structure and social life.”

That can work very well and has, demonstrably, when Church and State collaborate in goodwill as best they both can within their realms.

Clarifying the unique contributions of both civil authority and the church, Pope Francis said:

“Our meeting today includes law enforcement authorities, who are primarily responsible for combating this tragic reality by a vigorous application of the law. It also includes humanitarian and social workers, whose task it is to provide victims with welcome, human warmth and the possibility of building a new life. These are two different approaches, but they can and must go together.”

The gentleness and compassion of the sisters have their place alongside the firmness of the UK police. The victims must be cared for in the warmest and most loving manner possible, and the perpetrators, on account of the grisly nature of their trade, must be pursued and punished with force.

It is not the gift of all to be warm and loving enough to earn the trust of these victims. Nor is it the gift of all to have the strength and the resilience to confront the perpetrators. Both extremes are required because both extremes are present. The extreme of total devastation needs to be covered in total mercy, as frostbite needs a total, and gradual, thaw. The extreme of total aggression and lust needs to be extinguished in total justice, as a bonfire needs to be doused in gallons of water.

Here, the Catholic Church and the United Kingdom are reaching out to each other, each realizing the other’s unique and essential role in combating human trafficking. The Church cannot search boats or conduct raids or impose legal restrictions on certain nations or groups, nor can the United Kingdom create a network of compassionate people dedicated to serving others who will love, cherish, and rehabilitate the victims.

Very clarifying. The article also goes on to show what happens when political activism intervenes to block the Catholic Church from doing what its ministries and social services have done best to serve and care for the vulnerable and abused. In the US. those services were barred from reaching the neediest because of ideological agenda.

But look at what they are doing when allowed to serve freely, like these sisters in the Philippines. It’s extraordinary. And breathtaking. Read it and weep. And be thankful for the dedicated servants who aren’t looking the other way, or failing to notice the enslaved at all.

The problem is global and growing.

“Official data reported to UNODC (United National Office on Drugs and Crime) by national authorities represent only what has been detected. It is very clear that the scale of modern-day slavery is far worse.”

Look at the fact sheet from just what they do know.

And in places we don’t tend to think about, the children who are falling through the cracks in so many places.

International Child Protection Attorney Elizabeth Yore lists resources to get informed about human trafficking and start to do something. She added this one in one of several discussions with me on radio.

So much can and must be done. Which gets back to Sunday’s International Day of Prayer Against Human Trafficking.

Strikingly, the prayer day announced in Tuesday’s news conference will bring together several Vatican departments as well as the main umbrella groups for women and men in religious orders, since those congregations have long been on the front lines of the anti-trafficking fight.

Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said the prayer day is a mobilization on a global scale.

“Our awareness must expand and extend to the very depths of this evil and its farthest reaches,” Turkson said, “from awareness to prayer … from prayer to solidarity … and from solidarity to concerted action, until slavery and trafficking are no more.”

The date for the initiative is the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, considered a patron saint for trafficking victims. Born in 1868 in Darfur, Sudan, she was kidnapped at the age of nine and sold into slavery, first in her country and later in Italy. She died in 1947 and was declared a saint by Pope St. John Paul II in 2000.

Read the whole article. It’s compelling, as Francis and the Vatican intend the event to be.

Sister Carmen Sammut of Malta, a member of the Missionary Servants of Our Lady of Africa and the president of the International Union of Superiors General, said the day of prayer is intended to achieve two things:

First is a lament in the Biblical sense: “We want to cry out in the name of all the victims [and ask], ‘Until when, Lord’?”

Secondly, “We want to light up the world, that is, to bring hope to those who are without hope.”

That, and more.

When presenting the initiative in the United States in December, the auxiliary bishop of Seattle, Eusebio Elizondo, chairman of the US committee for migration, said that “if just one person realizes from this day that they or someone they know is being trafficked, we will have made a difference.”

This is an ongoing, determined mission fueled by the fire of Francis’ passion for the ‘throwaways’ of the culture.

The theme of Pope Francis’ Message for the 48th World Day of Peace, held Jan. 1, was “Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters.”

“We ought to recognize,” Francis wrote, “that we are facing a global phenomenon which exceeds the competence of any community or country. In order to eliminate it, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.”

And with persistent commitment. This requires much more attention. Stay tuned.

Francis and the global crisis of human trafficking

Ever since he’s been pope, Francis has talked about this problem often and called for specific action. His sense of urgency is clear.

And his determination undaunted. He has shown it time and again, like here when he addressed a group of ambassadors to present their Letters of Credence, something Francis wasn’t about to allow to be merely ceremonial.

Today, there is one area I would like to consider with you which concerns me deeply and which currently threatens the dignity of persons, namely, human trafficking. Such trafficking is a true form of slavery, unfortunately more and more widespread, which concerns every country, even the most developed. It is a reality which affects the most vulnerable in society: women of all ages, children, the handicapped, the poorest, and those who come from broken families and from difficult situations in society. In a particular way, we Christians recognize in them the face of Jesus Christ, who identified himself with the least and those most in need. Others, who do not profess a religious faith, in the name of our common humanity share our compassion for their sufferings and strive to liberate them and alleviate their wounds. Together we can and must employ our energies so that these women, men and children can be freed, thus putting an end to this horrible trade. It is believed that there are millions of victims of forced labour, victims of human trafficking for the purposes of manual work and of sexual exploitation. This cannot continue. It constitutes a grave violation of the human rights of those victimized and is an offense against their dignity, as well as a defeat for the worldwide community…

Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. We must unite our efforts to free the victims and stop this increasingly aggressive crime which threatens not only individuals but the basic values of society and of international security and justice, to say nothing of the economy, and the fabric of the family and our coexistence.

What is called for, then, is a shared sense of responsibility and firmer political will to gain victory on this front.

He goes further, calling out governments responsible for protecting…

…the victims of this crime, which, not infrequently is related to the narcotics and arms trade, the transport of undocumented migrants, and organized crime.

Here again, he called out the Mafia. And called on leaders and their ambassadors to confront anyone, even and especially the powerful, to use their influence for the protection of vulnerable human beings.

Your Excellencies, it has been my intention to share with you these thoughts regarding a social scourge of our time, because I believe in the value and the power of a concerted commitment to combat it. I therefore urge the international community to devise a more united and effective strategy against human trafficking so that, in every part of the world, men and women may never be used as instruments, but always be respected in their inviolable dignity.

Inviolable human dignity is the centerpiece of my new book, the center of gravity that should ground us all, no matter where different faiths and beliefs go from there.

I devoted Monday’s radio show to this topic, and the hour flew before we got very far. Liz Yore was my guest, international child protection attorney, former General Counsel and Director of the International Division at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, presenter at conferences on human trafficking, including at the Vatican, and driving force being a website devoted to awareness and relief of the problem of modern human slavery.

This is happening across the world and in our hometowns. I learned from Liz on Monday that our hometown of Chicago is a major hub of human trafficking, with one ‘safe house’ for victims, once they’re identified. There are two very obvious problems with that statement: one safe house in a major metropolitan, world class city, and the only one for victims once they’re identified, because they mostly stay hidden in the darkness and shadows of the trafficking trade. “Victims don’t disclose, so it goes unnoticed,” said Yore. When authorities see weapons or drugs cross the borders, they confiscate them. When humans don’t disclose that they are being smuggled, there is no detection and therefore not tip off to retrieve them from smugglers’ control, she explained. They live among us, undercover, terrified to speak up because of the potential consequences.

Millions of dollars are spent on conferences about trafficking, just to talk about the problem, Yore told me. That thought is just mind-boggling, considering that nothing demonstrable comes from meetings. But when the meetings are with Francis, he sends attendees out with assignments, to report back to him on progress.

So here are ways to make a difference, Yore said. Of course, pray for victims, for justice, for an end to human trafficking. Support groups working to protect vulnerable human beings. At the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, the trafficking trade is expected to have a major uptick. Write FIFA and ask what they’re doing about it. This article helps.

And finally, Yore said, befriend people you meet, show them a friendly face, someone caring, someone they might trust if they are in danger. Because the workers at a local nail salon, or on the cleaning crew in offices after hours, just may be enslaved in one of these dire situations and afraid to speak up. Give them an opportunity.

And by the way, before the radio show ended, one caller was a police chief in Minnesota who had been listening to the conversation and everything Liz Yore had been saying about all this. And he called to tell listeners that it was all true, it’s all around us, and we must do everything we can to be present for people who desperately need protection, safety and trust.

We know China has a one-child policy

Who believes media accounts that the Chinese government has eased it?

For the past two years in particular, in American politics, we’ve heard a lot of allegations about certain parties carrying out a ‘war on women’ and it’s becoming a campaign slogan. That’s dishonest, disingenuous, and distracting from the real and very terrible war on women being carried out by the Communist Chinese government.

What some political groups or organizations in the U.S. see as an opportunistic way to turn people’s opinions against other groups that think differently on pro-life issues is nothing compared with the reality of powerful authorities in other countries whose thinking on women and babies and human life has led to terror and horrific violence against their own people.

This must stop, but can only be stopped by being exposed, revealed, known about, talked about and acted on. China is not the only place where human rights abuses like this are happening. But it’s one to focus on.

International human rights activist Reggie Littlejohn was my guest on radio for an hour to talk about this human rights crisis, and her work as founder and president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, an international coalition to expose and oppose forced abortion, gendercide and sexual slavery in China. She focused on the crisis, and politely answered my questions about her work, putting emphasis where it belong.

It belongs on both. The horrific crimes against humanity, the real ‘war on women,’ wouldn’t be getting much attention if not for Reggie’s amazing background and ongoing, tireless, relentless efforts.

Have you ever heard that every day, about 590 women end their own lives in China? Because the Chinese government enforces its one-child policy through brutal forced abortions, at any point through nine months of pregnancy. Because when a woman is discovered to be ‘illegally pregnant’ without a license or official permission, she is dragged off to a clinic where she may likely suffer barbarian acts to kill the child she’s carrying, sometimes dismembering it inside her womb if the child is older in weeks or months, larger, and the drugs given to the woman to induce pregnancy don’t work. Because the one-child policy has led to such overwhelming gendercide against baby girls in China that now there are 37 million more men than women there, resulting in an aggressive sex-trafficking industry targeting the women and girls who are still around.

Look at the facts, the faces and names and the unnamed, the horrors of the reality of what’s happening every day in China. And let’s all do something to stop it.

Because, as Reggie states:

It does not matter whether you are pro-choice or pro-life on this issue. No one supports forced abortion, because it’s not a choice. China’s One child Policy causes more violence against women and girls than any other official policy on earth.

We can save them, one girl and woman at a time if necessary. And wholesale policy change if possible.