Out of the Shadows – Human Trafficking in Our Midst

Marking their 165th congregational anniversary and the Year of Consecrated Life, the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael initiated a regular speaker series that began last January. Once or twice a month, all are invited to a Gather@Grand event. There has been a wide range of speakers and topics of interest to religious, Catholics, and the general public.

This month a distinguished panel spoke to a group of about 100 people on the issue of human trafficking, underlining the facts that trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business with millions of victims around the world—and that it is going on in the very same county where the event was held. Many in the audience said they had had no idea that the problem was so close to home.

The panel was facilitated by long-time social justice activist, Sister Marion Irvine, OP and was joined by Sister Judy Lu McDonnell, OP and Lyn Kirkconnell, current Co-promoters of Justice, Peace and Care of Creation for the Dominican Sisters; Emily Sims, the founder and director of West Marin Advocacy, a nonprofit organization providing services to survivors of family and community violence throughout Marin County, herself a victim of trafficking; and Ron Brown, a member of a local temple, Congregation Kol Shofar, and a member of the Marin Organizing Committee’s Human Trafficking Research Team.

In addition hearing basic information about the issue of trafficking, those who attended were presented with many sources of further information and ways they can get involved to address the issue. As Superbowl 50 is being hosted in the San Francisco Bay area in February 2016, already justice activists are communicating with local hotels to gain their cooperation in identifying and potentially rescuing trafficking victims.