Community Life

Oral Report 2013

I encourage everyone to read my annual report in the convention report book. I feel humbled and honored to have had the opportunity to work with all of the Community Life chairpersons across Quebec. Together we have accomplished great things and I thank you for your good work. Today I am going to talk to you about human trafficking.

We are all familiar with the recent news events where three Cleveland Ohio teens were held captive and sexually assaulted for a decade before they were freed. This story is so shocking and inconceivable yet it is said that there are likely other cases of human enslavement in our very own neighbourhoods.

Another news story that has made us all open our eyes to “slave labour” in recent weeks is that of the collapse of a factory building near Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed at least 362 people, most of whom were women and girls. The clothes that the workers in Dhaka were labouring over when their factory collapsed include brands we recognise like Joe Fresh, marketed by Loblaws. Workers are being paid sweatshop wages to make our incredibly inexpensive clothes — the minimum wage is $36.50 a month and they must labour in deathtraps.

As members of the CWL we have resources available to us to teach our members about these issues. There is the Trafficking of Women and Children Workshop for Parish Councils available on the CWL web site. This is a short workshop that can be easily incorporated into a monthly meeting. This workshop tells us about the church’s teachings: Gaudium et Spes, Vatican II, No. 27

“…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 [and women] 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. They poison human society, but they do more harm to

those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover,

they are supreme dishonor to the Creator.”

February 22nd was human trafficking awareness day and Nancy Simms, National subcommittee chairperson, prepared a prayer service for this day. If your council has not yet used this prayer service that can be incorporated into a regular meeting, I strongly encourage you to do this. This prayer service is available on the CWL web site.

Nancy writes in her service;

Human trafficking affects all of our lives and communities. Some of the food we eat may be harvested or prepared by women and men, girls and boys, bent over in long labour, who themselves are hungry or starving. We may be wearing an article of clothing or using a cell phone that was produced in a factory where workers are forced into assembly lines for excruciatingly long hours, seven days a week and for meagre wages that will not provide for their families. We may be wearing a beautiful diamond that was mined by men who were forced into labour and lost their young sons to militia movements that force these boys to execute unimaginable violence within their communities. A house down the street may be a place where young women and girls are taken to be sexually exploited.

Linda Chisholm

Community Life Chairperson