As we continue our work to eradicate modern slavery through our procurement processes, it is important to remember those who have fought against these injustices before us.
Today is the Feast Day of St Josephine Bakhita – the patron saint of victims of modern slavery and human trafficking. On this day we pray for all those affected by these crimes, and the people that volunteer and work to eradicate this crime.
St Josephine Bakhita was kidnapped by Arab slave traders from her home in Sudan at the age of nine and sold into slavery. Flogging and maltreatment were part of her daily life, and she experienced the moral and physical humiliations associated with slavery. For 12 years she was bought, sold and given away over a dozen times. She spent so much time in captivity that she forgot her original name.
After many years of struggle, Josephine was legally declared free. As slavery had been outlawed in Sudan before Josephine was born, it was determined that she could not have lawfully been made a slave. With her new found freedom, she chose to remain with the Canossian Sisters, who she was left with for a period of time during her time as a slave.
Surrounded by the sisters, she died on 8 February 1947. This day has been designated as a day of prayer, reflection and action to end the injustice of human trafficking.
As we continue to work towards the eradication of modern slavery, today we give thanks for the work of people such as St Josephine.
For more information about the Australian Catholic Ant-Slavery Network (ACAN), visit https://www.acan.org.au/modernslavery.