By Linda Bordoni & Sr. Bernadette Reis, fsp
The feisty Talitha Kum sisters who are out there to prevent vulnerable people from falling prey to human traffickers, to save and protect the victims and to offer shelter and healing to survivors, are calling on politicians and organizations as well as on men and women of goodwill to “Take Action” and eradicate the scourge of human trafficking.
They have chosen 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, as their “Call to Action” launch day, because although boys and men are victims of human trafficking, the majority of individuals trafficked for labour and sex are women and girls.
A recent EU report shows that asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, especially women and unaccompanied minors, are particularly vulnerable to trafficking and that sexual exploitation remains the most prevalent and reported purpose for which vulnerable people are enslaved.
Fighting this abuse, that Pope Francis has described as a scourge against human dignity, the worldwide Talitha Kum network counts on dozens of sisters across the continents, coordinating the anti-trafficking efforts of 60 inter-congregational networks at various local and regional levels.
Thursday’s in-person and online event will see Talitha Kum representatives giving voice to victims and survivors, calling for justice, women’s empowerment, legal migration pathways and an economy of care.
Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin will address the event bearing witness to the Church’s commitment to eradicate trafficking and always be there for the poorest, the most vulnerable, the most marginalized.
International political and civil society personalities will intervene to help participants reflect on the words and testimonies of the sisters on the ground.
A timely and urgent call to all stakeholders
Like Sister Abby Avelino who works in Japan and is Coordinator for Talitha Kum in Asia. She told Vatican Radio’s Sr. Bernadette Reis that this “Call to Action” is urgent as there are so many issues that must be advocated for in order to give justice and protection to the millions of victims and survivors, “particularly for all those women from Asian countries” who are "trapped in this heinous crime."
She explains that most of the victims she encounters in Japan have been trafficked from neighbouring Asian countries, but also from as far away as Africa.
“I meet women and men who have been exploited and deceived,” she said.
As Asia coordinator, Sister Abby says she promotes and facilitates coordination with bishops’ conferences and with other religious conferences, NGOs and non-profit organizations.
“We strengthen our collaboration between the sending countries and the destination countries,” that in Sr Abby’s case mean Japan, Korea and Taiwan predominantly being the destination countries in Asia, and the Philippines and Thailand being the main countries where people are being trafficked from for sexual and labour exploitation.
She points out that many victims enter Japan legally but under false promises, and end up being exploited and enslaved. So, she concludes, collaboration and networking are fundamental to prevent and protect.
It is an important time, she says, to call all the stakeholders to action – government organizations and civil society – as well as ordinary citizens “as we all have roles to play, and we need to step up” and all be part of a joint effort.
Join the liberation journey
You too, the sisters say, can take action for dignity and justice, transforming exploitation with the power of care: telling friends and family about the trade and joining anti-trafficking initiatives, participating in the journey of liberation of Talitha Kum.
Join Talitha Kum on Thursday, 25 November at 3pm (CET) for the launch of the new Call to Action! Link for the livestream: http://directenglish.uisg.link