LONDON – An army of Catholic religious sisters who rescue victims of human trafficking by posing as prostitutes to infiltrate brothels and buying children being sold into slavery, is expanding to 140 countries, its chairman said Wednesday.
John Studzinski, an investment banker and philanthropist who chairs Talitha Kum, said the network of 1,100 sisters currently operates in about 80 countries but the demand for efforts to combat trafficking and slavery was rising globally.
The group, set up in 2004, estimates that one percent of the world’s population is trafficked in some form, which translates into some 73 million people. Of those, 70 percent are women and half are 16 or younger.
“I’m not trying to be sensational, but I’m trying to underscore the fact this is a world that has lost innocence … where dark forces are active,” said Studzinski, a vice chairman of US investment bank The Blackstone Group.
“These are problems caused by poverty and equality, but it goes well beyond that,” he told the Trust Women Conference on women’s rights and trafficking hosted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
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