Pope Francis Addresses Summit on Human Trafficking and Organized Crime

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the “Judges’ Summit on Human Trafficking and Organized Crime”
[Vatican, 3-4 June 2016] (3 June 2016)

Good afternoon! I offer you a cordial greeting and once more I express my appreciation for your efforts to contribute to the human and social progress which the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences seeks to promote.

My heartfelt appreciation for this contribution also has to do with the noble service you can offer to humanity both by your analysis of the timely topic of indifference and the extreme forms it takes in our globalized world, and by your proposing solutions aimed at improving the living conditions of the poorest of our brothers and sisters. In fidelity to Christ, the Church is committed to meeting this challenge. The Enlightenment slogan that the Church must not be involved in politics has no application here, for the Church must be involved in the great political issues of our day. For, as Pope Paul VI pointed out, “political life is one of the highest forms of charity”. The Church is also called to be faithful to people and their needs, all the more so in situations of deep hurt and dramatic suffering in which values, ethics, social sciences and faith all enter into play. In such situations, your own witness as individuals and humanists, together with your expertise, is particularly valued.

In recent years, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, thanks to the efforts of its President, its Chancellor and a number of prestigious external collaborators – to whom I offer my heartfelt thanks – has engaged in important activities in defence of human dignity and freedom in our day. This has been particularly the case with efforts to eliminate human trafficking and smuggling, as well as new forms of slavery such as forced labour, prostitution, organ trafficking, the drug trade and organized crime. As my predecessor Pope Benedict XVI stated, and I myself have repeated on several occasions, these are true crimes against humanity; they need to be recognized as such by all religious, political and social leaders, and by national and international legislation.

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Maimed maid face of human trafficking

From the Kuwait Times:

CHENNAI: When Kasthuri Munirathinam crawled out of the window of a second floor apartment in Riyadh, she was scared for her life. The 55-year-old Indian housemaid from the southern state of Tamil Nadu was determined to escape from her employer’s apartment where she worked as a domestic help. She had been in Saudi Arabia for just two months, one of thousands of Indians heading to the Gulf states every year for work, but was terrified she would never see her family again.

“I thought they would kill me. I had to escape. I wasn’t given enough to eat. They had my wages, my passport, my phone,” Munirathinam told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview in her home in Vellore, 150 km from Chennai. Munirathinam’s desperate bid to escape last September hit international headlines after the housemaid said her employer had chopped her hand off in the affray, with the injury resulting in an operation to amputate her arm.

Videos and photos of Munirathinam lying in a hospital bed, her arm heavily bandaged, prompted India’s foreign ministry to complain to the Saudi Arabian authorities about the attack although the exact details remain unclear. Saudi police said Munirathinam’s arm was amputated due to injuries she sustained in the fall from the building. Munirathinam is still waiting for action to be taken against her employer. Phone calls and emails to the Saudi Arabian embassy in New Delhi and the Indian mission in Riyadh on the issue went unanswered.

“I became a dependent who needs assistance to even comb my hair … and to think my journey to the Gulf was in the capacity of a breadwinner for my family,” she said tearfully. “Some official (from the government hospital in Chennai) called and said I could get a free prosthetic arm. But going to the hospital would mean hiring a taxi and we can’t afford it.”

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Going Undercover As A Sex Worker

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By Mimi Chikarova, from Al Jazeera:

A photojournalist describes how she posed as a prostitute to follow the trade in human flesh.

Sometimes I wonder if I would do it again.

That’s the funny thing about life. Experience comes in random, sporadic servings. It’s only years later that the story takes shape.

I didn’t intend to spend more than a year covering human trafficking. It ended up taking a decade. I didn’t intend on reporting in more than two countries. So, how did I end up in nine?

Before my trips, my mum used to ask: “It took us so many years to get out of poverty, why do you keep returning there?” I would sit in her kitchen and the only answer that would come to mind was: “It’s so damn familiar.”

I can say the same about the Balkans. Each time the plane landed, I was home. It could have been Turkey, Greece, Albania, Bulgaria (my birth country), or Macedonia – I wasn’t an outsider. I understood the culture, the rawness of our ways, the dark humour of our days.

But there is one thing I couldn’t understand. What had happened to us? How did we start selling our own girls? How did we make profit from deceit and violence?

At first, I was a photojournalist. I saw the world through the camera. And my idea was to return to my origins and find girls who had survived and escaped their traffickers and pimps.

I knew about the shame and stigma in our culture. I knew that once a girl was forced into prostitution, she could never return and expect her village to understand her ordeal. She was judged, trashed, discarded – even by her own family.

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Two-Thirds of World’s Slaves Live in Asia

Global slavery ranking highlights modern scourge

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This 2009 file photo shows an Indian bonded child laborer crying during a raid and rescue operation in New Delhi. A new report on modern slavery shows that two-thirds of the estimated 45.8 million people enslaved worldwide live in Asia. (Photo by AFP)

Two-thirds of the estimated 45.8 million people enslaved worldwide live in Asia, according to a damning report on modern slavery released May 31.

Published by the U.K.-based Walk Free Foundation, the Global Slavery Index used randomized samples to assess 167 countries on the number of slaves, percentage of population enslaved, and government action. In the report, slavery is defined as “situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception.”

The study found that India, China and Bangladesh have among the most slaves in the world, while North Korea, Cambodia and India have the highest proportion of their population enslaved.

 

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June Update from UNANIMA International

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CLIMATE CHANGE: MIGRATION
In May, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) held a briefing on Migration, Environment & Climate Change. The rights of migrants were integrated into the Paris climate change agreement in the preamble. There is no legal definition for “climate / environmental refugee” (did you know that?) so they are using the term “human mobility.” Looking at climate change through the concept of human mobility focuses on people and their rights, helps governments understand how climate change increases vulnerabilities, and suggests ways to change it.

IOM has created a Geneva-based Migration, Environment and Climate Change Division (MECC). Excellent publications from MECC and IOM can be found at their sites on the internet, and there is information and resources in English, French and Spanish at http://environmentalmigration.iom.int

GOOD NEWS ON LABOR SLAVERY:
The Pulitzer Prize for 2016 was given to the Associated Press for a series of stories on forced labor in the seafood industry.

Click here to read the rest of the May Update

To subscribe to UNANIMA’s monthly e-mail newsletter, please visit http://www.unanima-international.org/ and fill in your e-mail address and click the “Subscribe” button in the top-right corner.

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May Update from Talitha Kum in Rome

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UISG Plenary: Here at the UISG all we are very busy preparing for the Plenary Assembly, which will be held from 9 to 13 May 2016 in Rome. There will be a little less than 900 mothers general, from all over the world. I will speak of Talitha Kum on the afternoon of the 10th, I will be part of a panel discussion, where the UISG will present its projects. This is an excellent opportunity to talk about us, the results of our meeting and to invite the superiors general to support this great network that together we are trying to build for the benefit of people, families and communities who suffer from trafficking in persons. Meeting with CAVITP: From 3 to 5 March, I was in Lisbon for the seminar: “The Edge of trafficking in persons: a multidimensional approach to a complex reality.” Organized by CAVITP, the Portuguese network of Talitha Kum. The seminar was attended by different religious and lay people interested in the topic of trafficking. This meeting provided an opportunity to strengthen the participation of Portugal in the European network RENATE and the global network Talitha Kum.

Visit to the United Nations:
On March 10th, Sr. Michele Morek, (UNANIMA International) and members of USCSAHT Talitha Kum organized a meeting with the religious congregations present at the United Nations. There were about 40 participants. The sisters have shown great interest in Talitha Kum. To foster work together we decided to start an exchange of information. Sr. Michele will be our contact person in New York. We also talked about the possibility of a common event in 2017, on the occasion of the Women’s Forum organized by the United Nations (UN side event to the women forum).UISG Plenary: Here at the UISG all we are very busy preparing for the Plenary Assembly, which will be held from 9 to 13 May 2016 in Rome. There will be a little less than 900 mothers general, from all over the world. I will speak of Talitha Kum on the afternoon of the 10th, I will be part of a panel discussion, where the UISG will present its projects. This is an excellent opportunity to talk about us, the results of our meeting and to invite the superiors general to support this great network that together we are trying to build for the benefit of people, families and communities who suffer from trafficking in persons.

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May 2016 Update from UNANIMA International

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A WIN AGAINST THE EXPLOITATION OF WOMEN:
The recent vote of the French National Assembly was a new victory for humanist and feminist associations. By adopting a law aiming to reinforce the fight against the system of prostitution and to support persons in prostitution, France reaffirmed essential values for equality between women and men, dignity and solidarity, and positioned itself on the side of prostituted persons, by recognizing the system which exploits them as a form of violence and an obstacle to human dignity.

After Sweden, Norway and Iceland, France commits to abolitionism, an approach which aims to change ideas about prostitution and end this form of violence. The French law includes a series of measures: support and protect prostituted persons and abolish any form of repression against them; criminalize all forms of pimping, trafficking, and the purchase of sex; develop real alternatives and exit strategies for prostituted persons and prevent prostitution through education and awareness raising. In the Nordic nations that have tried this approach, the incidence of trafficking has decreased.

MIGRATION IS FINALLY IN THE MAINSTREAM AT UN:
Summary of the International Dialogue on Migration in FebruaryWith the adoption of Agenda 2030 (The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs) migration has finally been incorporated into mainstream global development policy. Here are some examples of how migration is mentioned in the SDGs and their targets:

  • The situation of migrant workers is highlighted in SDG 8 on economic growth and decent work
  • The issue of trafficking is mentioned in several SDGs–for instance SDG 16 on peaceful societies
  • Among all the targets, SDG 10.7 is the centerpiece for migration in the 2030 Agenda. It calls for “well managed migration policies,” and for the facilitation of orderly, safe, regular, and responsible migration. Under Goal 10 there are also policies to reduce inequality within and among countries.

 

The workshop discussed appropriate tools and mechanisms that will help member states measure progress on migrant-related SDG targets. Panelists asked how can we increase the benefits of migration for the migrants themselves, and for countries of origin and destination, while reducing its economic and human costs? How can we promote and respect the rights of all migrants, regardless of their status?

Click here to read the rest of the May Update

To subscribe to UNANIMA’s monthly e-mail newsletter, please visit http://www.unanima-international.org/ and fill in your e-mail address and click the “Subscribe” button in the top-right corner.

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