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LONDON (ChurchMilitant.com) - An order of religious sisters is posing as prostitutes to rescue sex slaves all around the world.
The group, known as Talitha Kum, is a worldwide organization of 1,100 sisters working in 80 countries, according to chairman John Studzinski. It works with the International Union of Superior Generals (UISG,) a canonically approved organization of Catholic sisters.
Estimates say about 73 million people worldwide are enslaved in sex trafficking. Most of that number consists of women, particularly those under the age of 16.
Talitha Kum was founded in 2004 to combat this crisis by sending sisters into brothels posing as prostitutes, who then operate from the inside to help sex slaves escape their imprisonment and start a new life. According to the organization's website, its aim is to "share and maximize the resources that Religious Life has on behalf of prevention, protection and assistance, awareness-raising and denouncement of trafficking in persons."
The organization has locations in both First- and Third-World countries, including Ireland, Nigeria, Australia and the Dominican Republic, to name just a few.
In order to help people appreciate the nature of the sisters' work, Studzinski detailed several cases they've been involved in, saying the treatment of some victims is horrific. In one instance, an enslaved prostitute was locked in a room for a week with no food, forced to eat her own feces, because she refused to have sex with 12 clients per day.
According to him, the sisters go to all lengths to rescue women like this, and very often dress up as prostitutes and integrate themselves into houses of prostitution. "They work in brothels. No one knows who they are," he said.
The sisters work clandestinely and usually do not rely on anyone else to help them, as they can't be sure who is trustworthy. "These sisters do not trust anyone. They do not trust governments, they do not trust corporations, and they don't trust the local police." Studzinski added, "In some cases they cannot trust male clergy."
Despite the organization's wide-ranging efforts, Studzinski says it needs to expand to 40 more countries, totaling 120 nations.
"I'm not trying to be sensational ,but I'm trying to underscore the fact this is a world that has lost its innocence ... where dark forces are active," he said.