Conference on 'slave trade of the 21st century'

 The role of Catholic organisations in the struggle to eliminate human trafficking and to assist the victims of this crime was underlined by Caritas Internationalis delegate Sebastian Dechamps, at a seminar on human trafficking organised by the United States Embassies to Italy and the Holy See in the Vatican last Thursday. "Why is the Church concerned about human trafficking? Because it offers preferential help to victims, the poorest of the poor" said Dechamps. The representative of Caritas Internationalis said human trafficking is a global phenomenon which challenges everyone. Therefore the Catholic Church cannot fail to be involved in tackling the problem. "From Africa to Asia, from Europe to America, there are no countries immune from human trafficking" he said, underlining however that "wherever this crime is present, the Church with its charitable organisations is in front line to bring assistance to the victims and denounce the traffickers". Dechamps also said that speaking of human trafficking many think only of sexual abuse on women. But the phenomenon is much broader and also includes child labour for example. The participants at the meeting agreed it was necessary to establish operative networks among different social bodies, public and private, police, judiciary, unions, church and religious movements, NGOs to deal the problem and its many dimensions: social, legal, sanitary, psychological, etc. In this context Caritas intends to be close to victims, offering material and spiritual assistance. "I meet many young women forced into prostitution by ruthless traffickers and I am often struck by their profound spirituality, particularly the young girls from Africa" said Consolata missionary Sr Eugenia Bonetti, who has worked for year to get women and girls off the streets . "Sadly traffickers exploit ancestral beliefs such as voodoo to dominate them psychologically". The meeting was closed by Ambassador John Miller, Director of the US State Department for control of human trafficking and counsellor in this field US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said human trafficking is the slave trade of the 21st century. Source: Fides

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