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Human trafficking presentation at St. Joes

Most of us would like to believe that slavery in the United States ended with the Civil War more than 100 years ago. However, the cold hard truth is that human trafficking is still alive and well even here in Minnesota. In fact, according to the FBI, Minnesota ranks in the top 13 states for human trafficking.

"People are not aware that it's here.... It definitely is," said Shirley Rowley, pastoral minister at St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Victims of human trafficking are lured into it with false promises of money, jobs, protection and escaping their native poverty, according to information from Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Once here, Rowley said, the people get caught in a vicious cycle. Away from their native home and often unable to speak the language, the victims are forced into sexual exploitation or forced labor.

According to Catholic Charities there are 27 million people enslaved worldwide. A majority, 80 percent, are female and 50 percent are children.

Catholic Charities provides assistance to victims of sex and labor trafficking. The group provides victims with a wide range of services including housing, legal assistance, medical care, food, translation services and more. The group also hopes to address this issue in individual communities through education.

To help educate people in Rosemount, St. Joseph Church will host an Information Night on Human Trafficking at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at St. Joseph Church, 13900 Biscayne Ave. W. Rowley said a light meal will be served at 6:30 p.m. for those coming from work and the program will begin at 7 p.m.

Catholic Charities Program manager Hemlal Kafle will give the presentation and then answer questions from the audience. Rowley said Kafle provides a lot of good information about the practice and how people can be on the lookout for signs of trafficking in their own community.

While it's a haunting topic, Rowley said people can get educated and help make a difference. The presentation is open to the community.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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