The eighth International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking gathered participants virtually from over 30 countries to pray for an end to the scourge of human trafficking which affects millions each day.
The prayer marathon continued across time zones from Asia to Europe, South America, and ending with a closing prayer in Canada and the United States.
In a video message, Pope Francis expressed his support for those working to end human trafficking and criticized the global structures that lead to oppression, particularly of women.
The organization of societies worldwide is still far from reflecting clearly the fact that women have the same dignity and identical rights as men. It is unfortunately noted that doubly poor are those women who endure situations of exclusion, mistreatment and violence.
While the Pope commended the work of religious sisters worldwide in combating human trafficking, he also said men have a responsibility to condemn violence against women.
There are many women who have had the courage to rebel against violence. We men, too, are also required to do so, to say no to every form of violence, including that against women and girls.
The Pope established the day of prayer in 2015 to draw attention to a subject that has been central to his papacy.