A group of 1,100 nuns known as Talitha Kum are working undercover in brothels worldwide to help rescue sex trafficking victims and buy child slaves. They currently serve in 80 countries.
From dressing as prostitutes to walking the streets, the nuns employ a variety of creative strategies to save victims under a strict veil of secrecy, Reuters reports.
John Studzinski, the investment banker who chairs Talitha Kum, spoke at the Trust Women Conference on trafficking and women's rights, which was held on Nov. 17 and Nov. 18. There he explained the group's method of operation.
"These sisters do not trust anyone," Studzinski said, according to Reuters. "They do not trust governments, they do not trust corporations, and they don't trust the local police. In some cases they cannot trust male clergy.
"They work in brothels. No one knows they are there."
Talitha Kum also raises money to buy children who are sold into slavery by their parents in places like the Philippines, India, Brazil and Africa.
"This is a new network of houses for children around the world who would otherwise be sold into slavery," Studzinski said. "It is shocking but it is real."
There are conflicting statistics when it comes to human trafficking. However, Talitha Kum estimates that 73 million people are trafficked for sex or labor, and the majority of those sold are women, half of whom are 16 or younger, according to Reuters. These startling numbers explain why Studzinski is currently looking to expand the organization and serve 60 more countries.
"Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and is a worldwide phenomenon," Robyn Shepherd, the Amnesty International spokeswoman, told Fox News. "Victims are trafficked into a range of hazardous labor including farm work, sweatshops, domestic servants, forced prostitution and are subjected to sexual abuse and other forms of violence."
However, while Talitha Kum does save many lives, some anti-trafficking groups are concerned about the methods they use and its long-term implications.
"When you the buy the victim, you just drive up the cost for brothel owners or traffickers trying to sell in the future," Christina Arnold, founder and CEO of Prevent Human Trafficking, said.
Moreover, while rescuing victims is important, many experts say one must also deal with the root issues of trafficking, such as poverty and some international trade policies.
“Globalization has made international borders increasingly porous, and the scale of human trafficking has proliferated,” Sutapu Basu, the executive director of the University of Washington's Women Center, said in an interview with the University of Washington's campus newspaper, UW Today. “And even though trafficking is now recognized as a human rights issue, other dimensions of the trade – such as public health, labor rights, immigration law and criminal justice – are still not given enough attention.”