The IDPHT was first celebrated on the 8th. February 2015 at the desire of Pope Francis, who in 2014, requested the International Union of Superiors and of Superiors General (UISG / USG) to promote this day. The Secretary of State, responding to requests made by religious, who had been working for years to combat trafficking, gave approval to organizations that for years have celebrated Anti-Trafficking Day on this date.
From the beginning Talitha Kum, the worldwide network of consecrated life committed against trafficking in persons (UISG), was responsible for the coordination of the group of partner organizations that prepare the day internationally. The organizations are: Congregation for Consecrated Life, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, the Vatican Academy of Sciences, Caritas International (CI), the International Union of Catholic Women Associations (WUCWO) and the workgroup against trafficking of the Committee for Justice and peace of the UISG / USG (ATWG).
In 2015 and 2016 the prepared material, in the different languages, was disseminated through the website created especially for the first celebration. In 2015, on-line participants were invited to get involved by entering their name and country in the appropriate boxes an so light a light against trafficking in their country. Lights becme visible on the world map as people participated in the day. Worlwide there were 2312 lights in 154 countries.
The first IDPHT was announced internationally at a press conference on February 3. The programme in Rome included : a prayer vigil, Mass and participation with banners at the Angelus in St. Peter's Square during which Pope Francis spoke of the event in the following words:
"Dear brothers and sisters, today, 8 February, the liturgical memorial of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese Sister, who as a child had the traumatic experience of being a victim of trafficking, the International Unions of Superiors General of religious institutes have promoted the Day Prayer and Reflection against trafficking in persons. I encourage all those who are committed to helping men, women and children enslaved, exploited, abused as tools or pleasure and often tortured and mutilated. I hope that those who have responsibilities of government will seriously strive to eliminate the causes of this shameful scourge, a scourge unworthy of a civilized society. Let each of us be committed to being a voice for our brothers and sisters, humiliated and deprived of their dignity. Let us all pray together.”
(Pope Francis, Angelus Domini February 8, 2015)
The IDPHT 2016 followed a similar pattern, favoring the local action.
The programme for 2017 introduced a new element. In addition to the proposed prayer and reflection it invites us to focus on one specific aspect of the vast and complex world of human trafficking: the trafficking of boys, girls and adolescents with the specific slogan: They are just children! Not slaves!
2018: MIGRATION WITHOUT TRAFFICKING: say yes to Freedom and no to slavery
2019 and 2020: Together against trafficking in persons
2021 brings into the spotlight one of the main causes of human trafficking: the dominant economic model of our time, whose limits and contradictions are exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The inspiring image is by Timothy Schmalz, the artist who created the sculpture of St. Bakhita "Let the Oppressed go free".
GROUP OF PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER AND AWARENESS AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING:
Dicastery for Promotoring Integral Human Development