Talitha Kum: Nuns Pose as Prostitutes to Rescue Human Trafficking Victims
An international network of crime-fighting nuns known as Talitha Kum has announced plans to expand its anti-human trafficking and slavery organization from 80 to 140 countries.
If this is the first time you’re hearing about Talitha Kum’s organization, I’m not surprised. The reported 1,100 nuns that make up the low-key operation have gone under the radar since first organizing in 2004, using their anonymity to often pose as prostitutes in order to infiltrate brothels and buy children being sold into slavery. Sometimes the women shed their habits and work alongside locals for as little as 2 U.S. cents an hour in order to uncover human rights abuses.
“These sisters do not trust anyone. They do not trust governments, they do not trust corporations, and they don’t trust the local police. In some cases they cannot trust male clergy,” explained Talitha Kum chairman John Studzinski. “They work in brothels. No one knows they are there.”
According to Studzinski, the religious sisters often rely on fundraised money to buy children out of slavery, before placing them in a network of housing they’ve set up to shelter them in countries in Africa, as well as the Philippines, Brazil, and India.
Studzinski also detailed the horrific conditions some of these enslaved women endure. In one case, he recounted an female prostitute being starved of food for a week, and then forced to eat her own feces after failing to have sex with her quota of 12 clients in a day. In another horrific instance one woman was forced to have sex with a group of 10 men at one time.
Combating the world’s human trafficking epidemic is becoming harder and harder, making Talitha Kum’s need for expansion more important than ever. According to Reuters, current estimates claim that a total of one percent of the world’s population is trafficked in some form or another. That number has been roughly translated into a staggering 73 million people being sold. And of those 73 million people, 70 percent are women and half are ages 16 or younger. That being said, the 60 additional countries being served by this courageous network will have a great impact on this crisis.