Sister Joan Krimm is 83 years old and she has not gone quietly into retirement. This member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Ohio is now leading the fight against human trafficking and sexual slavery.
Initially, she walked the streets to help people, but eventually the FBI asked her to concentrate her efforts on education. “Sister Krimm is a force to be reckoned with. She is determined and hard-working. She is trusted because it is understood that her strong religious beliefs and moral principles are behind her actions,” said FBI Special Agent Pam Matson. “Her motives for being involved in the anti-trafficking movement are rightfully perceived as pure and loving, with no hidden agenda.”
The Justice Department says most victims of human trafficking are women, and many are children. The average “age of entry” for the sex industry is 13. That was all Sister Joan needed to know to get involved. She says of her order, “We were founded to be dedicated to the poor in the most abandoned places. Especially women and children,” she said. “You cannot look away from this type of evil.”
Sister Joan wanted to help the victims where she could find them, on street corners and in hotel rooms. She wanted to help build a safe house for victims. But the FBI and leaders of a local anti-human trafficking coalition said that her working with victims directly could place them in even greater danger. “They said: ‘Sister, why don’t you do what you do best? Educate.'”
Now Sister Joan goes to schools and talks to teachers and students about trafficking and sexual slavery. She knows it is a difficult subject. But people have been responsive to the straight-talking nun. “We were brought up that you don’t talk about sex, so to openly talk about it is difficult,” Sister Joan said. “I have to work on it, but I see a great need.” And people are willing to listen. The problem of human trafficking is slowly coming into the light.
Perhaps, oddly enough, people are most willing to talk about difficult subjects when they are hearing about it from an 83-year-old nun with round glasses and curly gray hair and a crucifix around her neck. “Sister Krimm has certainly opened some doors. Who can say no when she asks for a minute of their time to discuss human trafficking?” Agent Matson asked. “Whether it be out of respect for her age or her work as a nun, or just her passion about the issue, she has been able to talk to so many about human trafficking.”
Learn more at John Faherty’s USA Today article: Nun on mission to stop human trafficking.