Aberdeen Presentation Sisters: Human Trafficking in South Dakota

The Aberdeen Presentation Sisters and BizNOW magazine have partnered to create monthly social justice articles. The May 2017 article, listed below, reflects on the issue of human trafficking.

“Paula” was four years old when she was trafficked for the first time. Her mother invited men into the house and sometimes rewarded her with ice cream or toys after they left. She was in her late 30s when she was able to consider herself a survivor. She will never get her childhood back.

Human trafficking is alive and active throughout many towns in South Dakota. It is a reality today and often times happening right in front of us. Bringing awareness to our communities can be a key aspect to deterrence.
Since 2009, there have been more than 50 federal sex trafficking cases in the state of South Dakota and we have the 2nd highest trafficking related calls in the United States. Children make up 50% of the victims.

Interstates 90 and 29, and other highways, which run through South Dakota, are part of the “Midwest pipeline,” the superhighways used to deliver trafficking victims in and out of South Dakota.

Being committed to recognizing oppression and alleviating inequality whenever possible is part of our Presentation mission. Every Monday, a dedicated group of women and men come together at the Call to Freedom office to pray for the elimination of sex trafficking and for all persons who are caught in this dehumanizing web.

There are many aspects to that prayer:

  • Those being trafficked
  • Those trafficking
  • Those requesting men, women and children for sex
  • Those who tirelessly work to restore the dignity to the survivors
  • Law enforcement and the court system

As a community we need to increase our awareness as we work together to safeguard those we love. Ways to get involved may include:

  • Attending the monthly call to Freedom Luncheon to stay updated
  • Requesting an information session for awareness at your church or business
  • Adopting a survivor, individually or as a business
  • Praying for all those involved in the dark web of trafficking

Thank you to Call to Freedom for providing statistics and stories to be used in this article.

Silence won’t end human trafficking. Ignorance and unawareness is part of the problem. Learn how to be part of the solution and view details about the monthly luncheon by visiting: www.calltofreedom.org/events

Challenge Question: For whom can you be a voice today?

Sr. JoAnn and Mary webAuthors Sister JoAnn Sturzl and Mary Ihli pray faithfully at Call to Freedom each week. Sister JoAnn is also a member of the Avera Health Board and a PRH educator. Mary is a Cojourner with the Presentation Sisters and volunteers her time to many organizations in the community.