Catholic sisters embracing international efforts against human trafficking

People march with signs protesting human trafficking during a "Walk 4 Freedom" Jan. 9, 2015, in Los Angeles. (CNS/Vida Nueva/Victor Aleman)

New York — Sheila Simpkins McClain says she is more than her story.

But at a July 13 "side event" at the United Nations' High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, McClain held an audience in rapt attention as she told that story — her experiences of being a trafficked person.

Now 47 and director of survivor services for the anti-trafficking organization End Slavery Tennessee, McClain recalled being sexually abused starting at age 6, crossing the United States as a teenager, being "pimped" by a man in San Francisco, then returning to Tennessee and experiencing "life on the street."

"It was all on the street," McClain said of her life as a prostitute — there was no internet then. Selling her body, being beaten by men who acted as pimps, going in and out of jails: There is no single reason for these experiences, she said. Coming from a family that lived in poverty, having a mother who was likely a drug addict, and not having formal education all contributed, McClain said.

McClain's experiences are part of a larger narrative: A growing movement is recognizing the perils of human trafficking and its wide reach throughout the world, and Catholic sisters are among those who have robustly and passionately embraced this work.

Read the full story at Global Sisters Report.

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