Religious institutions all over the world are committed to raising awareness about human trafficking. They inform against traffickers and protect victims.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), nearly 21 million people – often the poor and the most vulnerable – fall victim to trafficking for sexual exploitation or forced labour, illegal organ trade, forced begging, domestic work, forced marriage, illegal adoption, and diverse other forms of exploitation. In sixty percent of the 2.5 million cases of human trafficking and modern slavery that are detected internationally every year, the victims are women and children.
They often experience abuse and violence. Human trafficking is one of the most lucrative types of criminal business in the world, estimated to be worth 32 billion USD per year. It is the third most profitable criminal activity globally, surpassed only by the illicit sale of drugs and arms.
Italian Consolata Sister Eugenia Bonetti, Chairperson of the non-profit organisation Slaves No More, says: “We must acknowledge that the slaves of our time are much more numerous than the Africans transported three centuries ago to British North America to work in cotton and sugar cane plantations. Slavery is present in more sophisticated forms nowadays, and produces huge illicit incomes. Once again the poorest and most vulnerable are those most at risk, while our societies are losing moral values and humanity and show a lack of respect and of a sense of hospitality.”
Consecrated Religious from different congregations and nationalities have created the Talitha Kum network to counteract human trafficking. The general aim of the network is sharing and maximising the resources of Religious Life to prevent and raise awareness of human trafficking, and to protect and assist its victims.
To date Talitha Kum includes 24 networks, composed of 240 congregations in 79 countries with more than 800 male and female religious – all committed to stopping human trafficking.
Comboni Sister Gabriela Bottari, the Co-ordinator of the Talitha Kum international network, says: “It is necessary to analyze the deepest causes of human trafficking, and to denounce this crime in the strongest way. Abuses and violations remain too often unpunished because victims are afraid to denounce their exploiters. The Talitha Kum campaign wants to sustain and promote the culture of the right to dignified life for all, by raising awareness about any form of exploitation, and by denouncing any violation of human rights.”