By Vatican News staff writer
Between 20 and 40 million people are estimated to be trapped in modern slavery today. As Talitha Kum members never tire of telling us, we live side-by-side with many victims who are exploited for labour, for prostitution, for the profitable organ trade.
Pope Francis has repeatedly denounced human trafficking as a scourge and a crime against humanity.
It is a trade that is hard to eradicate because it earns global profits that exceed over 150 billion US dollars a year for traffickers and it goes largely undetected. Thus, says the network of consecrated persons that work to raise awareness, save victims and provide healing for survivors, extra “care” is needed to break the cycle.
Care can make the difference
Launching its new #CareAgainstTrafficking campaign on Thursday, the organization explained the initiative aims to show the world how “care” can make the difference “along every step of the journey to combat human trafficking: care for those at risk, care for victims, and care for survivors.”
Founded in 2009 by the International Union of Superiors Generals (UISG), Talitha Kum International coordinates 50 networks in over 90 countries.
“In 2020, Talitha Kum networks worldwide cared for 17,000 survivors of human trafficking, providing safe housing, education and job opportunities, support to access justice and compensation, and healthcare and psychosocial assistance. During the same period, almost 170,000 people benefitted from prevention and awareness-raising activities organized by Talitha Kum,” a statement revealed.
The Catholic sisters who provide the backbone of the organization said their experience show that “long-term, care-centered approaches can reduce the risk of survivors being re-trafficking and exploited again and again.”
In order to be more effective, they say, “these approaches require holistic support at an institutional level”.
Talitha Kum International Coordinator, Sister Gabriella Bottani, explained that the Sisters involved are deeply committed and empowered by their spirituality and faith, but she said: “We call on all people of good will to come together and tackle the systemic causes of human trafficking, to transform the economy of trafficking into an economy of care.”
Role of governments
In particular, she continued, “we call on governments to commit to long-term support for survivors, including access to quality education, access to work permits and job opportunities, access to justice and compensation, and healthcare and psychosocial support.”
The network of Consecrated Life has supported tens of thousands of people helping them to escape modern slavery and find a way to reconstruct lives of freedom and dignity, but as Sister Patricia Murray, Executive Secretary at UISG, says: “Talitha Kum is committed not only to empowering vulnerable and marginalized communities around the world, but also to dismantling the systems that enable their oppression and exploitation.”