Center of Concern’s Education for Justice Premieres "I Am Miriam" Anti-Human Trafficking Video and Website

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Center of Concern announces the premiere of "I Am Miriam," an anti-human trafficking video, and companion website, "Against Humanity." Sister Dianna Ortiz, O.S.U., Editor of the Center's award-winning Education for Justice, wrote and produced the video and website on the basis of her friendship with the woman whose story is the focus of the project and her own research.

Women and girls face disproportionately higher risks of trafficking. No one can remain indifferent and we need to know the signs of human trafficking. We must protect Miriams everywhere. These are our daughters, sisters, mothers, nieces, and wives.

Center of Concern (Center) announces the premiere of "I Am Miriam," an anti-human trafficking video, and a companion website entitled, "Against Humanity." The video tells the story of a 26-year-old Ethiopian woman who underwent sex trafficking as she sought asylum from violence against her family and herself in her homeland. The website provides educational and other resources for preventing, detecting, and responding to human trafficking through individual and collective efforts.

Sister Dianna M. Ortiz, O.S.U., Editor of the Center’s award-winning Education for Justice (EFJ) and an internationally recognized champion for human rights, wrote and served as executive producer for the video. “This is the tragic, personal story of my friend, Miriam, who descended into the horrors of human trafficking as she fled violence against her family and herself in her native Ethiopia. This modern-day form of slavery ensnares nearly 21 million of our brothers and sisters, an experience that no one should have to endure. We must illuminate and eliminate the curse of human trafficking,” Ortiz stated.

“The title of the companion website, '[Against Humanity' captures the essence of this evil: human trafficking, also known as ‘trafficking in persons (TIP)’, is a crime against our individual and shared sense of what it means to be human,” she explained. Sister Ortiz and her team have organized the resource materials on the site around the four moments of the Center’s well-known Pastoral Circle: see, think, reflect, and act. “We hope that these resources will assist EFJ members—as well other students, teachers, family members, neighbors, members of faith communities, and businesspeople—as they seek to advocate, to identify suspicious activities, and to aid victims in their communities,” she emphasized.

The premiere of these resources comes during the week of three observances of significance in the Catholic Church: the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking; the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, whom many venerate as the patron of trafficked persons; and the commencement of Lent, a season for reflection and renewal for failures to sustain right relationships by respecting and caring justly and prudently for oneself and others.

“For many years, EFJ has produced fact sheets, study guides, prayers, litanies, and other resources to raise awareness and advocate about this issue,” Ortiz commented. “I am very grateful to have received grant funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters to create this video and Web site. I am pleased to release these resources now, to optimize local, state, national, and international awareness and efforts to fight human trafficking. At the same time, even though we talk about this issue around major sporting events such as the Super Bowl and now, in the season of Lent, the reality is that this is a cross that people bear around the world every day of the year.”

“Both my friend, Miriam, and St. Josephine Bakhita endured so much physical suffering and wrenching heartache. Women and girls face disproportionately higher risks of trafficking. No one can remain indifferent and we need to know the signs of human trafficking. We must protect Miriams everywhere. These are our daughters, sisters, mothers, nieces, and wives,” declared Ortiz.

Ortiz noted as well that men and boys can fall victim to this practice and that vigilance, resolve, and willingness to work with law enforcement will be necessary to protect all victims of trafficking—women, men, and children—so that they can build hopeful futures worthy of their human dignity, through education, career development, autonomy in choosing their own state in life, and the freedom to follow their vocations. “All of us are better off when we stand up for the dignity and intrinsic worth of each person and refuse to commodify human beings,” Ortiz said.

Center President Dr. Lester A. Myers praised Sr. Ortiz's achievement, saying, "In creating these resources about human trafficking, Sr. Ortiz has added to a distinguished record of service as a concerned educator, pastoral leader, and defender of human dignity against torture and other forms of deprivation. By sharing the tragic personal story of her friend, Miriam, she shows that it is not merely 21 million people suffering trafficking, but also one person suffering it, in 21 million horrific situations. This is not even to mention the concentric circles of family and friends whom this widespread practice harms. Sister Ortiz has humanized the narrative for this crime and rallied us to vigilance, care, and courage in working to eliminate this evil practice."

Sister Ortiz worked with Center team members to create and produce the video and website, and received technical assistance from TGD Communications of Alexandria, Virginia. She and the Center gratefully acknowledge the appearance in the video of Ms. Marie A. Dennis, Co-president of Pax Christi International and a long-time globally prominent leader for social justice and peace, as the voice of Miriam.


Sister Dianna M. Ortiz, O.S.U., is a globally prominent pastoral, thought, and executive leader for human rights and social justice. She endured profound violation of her own rights while serving as a missionary in Guatemala in 1989 and went on to found and lead the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition. She authored (with Patricia Davis) the critically acclaimed, The Blindfold’s Eyes: My Journey from Torture to Truth (Orbis Books, 2004), and she has received three honorary doctorates, as well as numerous awards for humanitarian leadership service. She went on to serve in Pax Christi USA and then joined Center of Concern in 2012, becoming editor of Education for Justice in 2014. In this role, she leads a team that commissions and publishes original work from the Center's Community of Creative Voices and other sources around the world to put social justice and other elements of Catholic social tradition in dialogue with the signs of the times in current events.


Since its founding in 1971 at the office of United Nations Secretary General U Thant by National Conference of Catholic Bishops General Secretary Joseph Bernardin and Jesuit Superior General Pedro Arrupe, S.J., and with significant talent and treasure from women religious, Center of Concern (Center) has operated in Washington, D.C., with a mission to research, educate, and advocate from Catholic social tradition to create a world where economic, political, and cultural systems promote sustainable flourishing of the global community. The Center envisions a global community that upholds basic human rights and human dignity, fosters just relationships, promotes sustainable livelihoods, and renews the earth.

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