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The Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT) consists of national and international Catholic agencies working to eliminate the scourge of human trafficking. The main purposes of the Coalition are to:
Formulate plans for combating trafficking and serving its victims
Promote development of services for trafficking victims and approaches to survivor empowerment
Dialogue with government officials and others engaged in public policies affecting this issue
Devise strategies for public education, awareness-raising and grass roots action
CCOAHT's more than 30 member organizations have their own networks of concerned citizens committed to eradicating human trafficking. Coalition organizations engage in anti-trafficking work by:
Delivering direct services to adult and child trafficking victims in the U.S. and overseas
Conducting prevention projects overseas, especially in Eastern Europe, India, and Latin America
Providing national training and technical assistance on the issue of trafficking
Human trafficking is a global phenomenon that enslaves women, men, and children into situations of forced labor, debt bondage, and sexual servitude. Human trafficking is wide spread in many products' supply chains, including products sold in the United States. For example, the United States imports 80-90% of its seafood, and tens of thousands of people are exploited at every link in the seafood harvesting and production chain. This exploitation occurs through abusive recruitment practices, as well as slavery at sea and in seafood processing plants.
Currently, we are not always given the information we need to make moral purchasing decisions. To support the request for slave-free seafood labels, CCOAHT distributed a survey to its networks, asking consumers if slave-free labeling would affect purchases. Over 2,200 people responded and the results showed that 99% of consumers want companies to take steps to engage in ethical business practices, 98% want their packaged seafood to be labeled, and 97% said labels would influence their purchasing decisions. CCOAHT members will highlight survey data in upcoming dialogue with seafood supply chain shareholders.
"Catholics are becoming increasingly aware of the collective power they possess as consumers to press for positive change in the lives of those who catch our fish. As my CCOAHT colleagues have remarked, 'we are asking the seafood industry to do better. The companies that do will be supported by consumers'", said Hilary Chester, Director of Anti-Trafficking at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. CCOAHT's pursuit of ethical consumerism seeks to echo the Vatican's commitment to "proof" its own supply chains from slave labor.
Tools to educate parishioners about the power of consumer responsibility to combat maritime trafficking may be requested from MRStraff@usccb.org.
To learn more about this issue, read the Associated Press' Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative report from 2016, "Seafood from Slaves."
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