Ursuline Sister Michele Morek was one of 16 Catholic sisters from across the United States who gathered in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 16 to participate in the White House Summit “Taking Action to Eradicate Modern-Day Slavery: Convening for Civil Society Leaders.”
Sister Michele is coalition coordinator for UNANIMA International in New York City, a nongovernmental organization of the United Nations comprised of religious orders that work to support women and children across the globe. It has made stopping the demand for human trafficking a priority.
The gathering was an effort to continue and strengthen the efforts to raise awareness of the crime of human trafficking, address the complex needs of survivors of both labor and sex trafficking, and advocate for more effective legislation to both increase available resources for victim needs and eradicate this crime.
This Summit is the result of one of the 10 recommendations put forth by the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the council’s April 2013 report titled “Building Partnerships to Eradicate Modern-Day Slavery.”
Following the release of that report, Sister Michele was one of 12 women religious who spent April 9-11 in Washington as an expert on human trafficking, as part of a meeting organized by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The purpose of that meeting was to strengthen collaboration among women religious by sharing resources and ideas that would help to better minister to victims, educate the public about modern-day slavery and influence public policy relative to this assault on the dignity of people.
The entire report is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/advisory_council_humantrafficking_report.pdf
More than 100 participants attended the Summit on Sept. 16, including heads of religious denominations, rabbis and nuns, CEOs of large nonprofits such as the United Way and Girl Scouts, foundation leaders, along with human trafficking survivors and experts, all united in their interest to join forces to eradicate modern-day slavery. Participants discussed ways their organizations can work together to raise awareness to educate both professionals and the public, identify victims, expand services for survivors and eliminate slavery in the goods and products.
On the final day of their gathering, the sisters visited with Polaris Project, headquarters of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and hotline, and received briefings on pending legislation relating to human trafficking. They proceeded to Capitol Hill where they visited their congressional representatives and senators to speak about these bills and provide additional information about the importance of addressing the crime of human trafficking.
Sister Michele said she got to visit with New York legislators who are sympathetic to the efforts to stop human trafficking.