Conference on Combating Human Trafficking
8 May 2012
Veronika Schreiner fcJ reports on her experience at the conference:
Not just a day, but a journey, with these words Bishop Patrick Lynch, UK, started his final remarks at the end of the Conference on Combating Human Trafficking, 08 May 2012, organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and held in Rome at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Conference Hall, Palazzo San Callisto, just beside the beautiful church, Santa Maria in Trastevere.
As a delegate from SOLWODI I had the privilege of attending this meeting which brought together law enforcement, church officials, as well as ambassadors and people involved in NGOs dealing with trafficked persons around the world.
Representatives came from the Americas (USA, Canada), Africa (Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa), Asia (Iran, Philippines and Thailand) and Europe (Albania, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Italy , Lithuania, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, UK, Vatican City State).
The aims of the Conference were to:
- bring together stakeholders to raise awareness and understanding of the extent and effects on human trafficking so as to help prevent trafficking;
- enhance pastoral support for victims;
- support better strategies for helping victims reintegrate into society;
- develop a database and establish points of contact for a more informed and strategic response to trafficking.
To achieve these ends we had short inputs regarding prevention from Interpol and from the Metropolitan Police from the UK. Sr. Imelda Poole IBVM from Albania spoke on Holistic Support for Victims of Trafficking. The topic of facilitating resettlement in the host country or in the country of origin through Catholic Networks and NGOs was competently dealt with by Ms Kristine Misienne, from Caritas Lithuania and Sr. Eugenia Bonetti (Union of Major Superiors, Italy).
The pioneering work of Religious Sisters in this field was recognized and the Sisters working with the vulnerable victims around the globe were highly praised.
Most impressive was the personal story of a victim of trafficking, Miss Sophie Hayes. Her Book, a book that would stir anybody’s hear, is called Trafficked: Diary of a Sex Slave and is available from Amazon as either a book or an e-book for download.) As she was attempting to share at least part of her story it became clear that for her too, her day of rescue was the beginning of a recovery journey that will take her many years if not a life time.
Over Lunch hour we also had Press Briefing and since I was the only German speaking person I was interviewed by the German Section of Vatican Radio.
The afternoon was successfully spent in three workgroups:
- Pastoral Care,
The task was to come up with recommendations on how the Church could use her worldwide network to contribute to the fight against trafficking of women and men, be it for sexual exploitation or for work exploitation.
The demand for a stronger voice from the official Church was expressed. To remain neutral in politics is in most countries not helpful.
Unfortunately (in my opinion) nobody mentioned the imminent need to reflect on and eventually change the image of women in the Church in general. What we are all called to do is
- To be aware of what is happening
- To be alert and learn how to read the signs of trafficking
- To be informed about the extent of this crime
- To be pro-active Contacts were made, personal relationships established, the journey can continue.
We are together on the road.