Heed the words of Pope Francis on today’s slave trade, implores a Loreto sister ahead of an international conference on human trafficking in Rome this week.
- Imelda Poole, The Tablet
Trafficking in human beings is a phenomenon that is not talked about easily. It is a crime that happens in secret, and to report it demands great courage on the part of the victims, who can be men or boys, women or girls. The victims could be educated or uneducated but the one factor that is common to all is vulnerability.
We see many reasons: the lack of social safety nets, dysfunctional families, economic poverty, patriarchal cultures, political instability and war, natural disasters, criminal activity, immigration status, violence and neglect within the family, and lack of education.
The trafficker is driven by the craving for power and control, by greed and by the desire for easy money, influenced by consumerism. The main challenge faced by those of us who work against this form of slavery today is to confront moral behaviour and cultural values. There is a need to try to bring about societal change so that those on the margins of society are included and empowered, experience self-esteem, are aware of their human dignity and know their human rights. Society has broken down when it does not protect its most vulnerable members.
In 2005, the Archbishop of Tirana requested that my religious order, IBVM (Loreto), focus on this phenomenon in our new mission in Albania. Girls were being moved in huge numbers from Albania to Italy by traffickers using speedboats to transport their victims across the Adriatic. But the problem is not confined to Italy. In 2012, five per cent of trafficked victims in the United Kingdom were Albanian, and we believe the percentage is now much higher.
Albanian girls are trafficked by 'lover boys,' who look out for the isolated girl in a village. This will be a girl who has been trapped into an arranged marriage she does not want, and who is living in poverty. The 'lover boy' will befriend her and ply her with gifts, get her false documents, take her to a beautiful country, continue to deceive her with gifts and move her on to the UK, where she will be sold for more than A$1500.
From this point of sale, the girl is brutally abused, endures multiple rape and is drugged. Now she is forced to see up to 10 men a day. All the money goes to the trafficker and only the help of a client, or escape, offers freedom.
FULL STORY Let’s not look the other way (The Tablet)