Nuns in Italy and around the world are stepping up to the front lines in the fight for migrant women and against human trafficking.
Scalabrinian Sisters promote “acceptance, integration, promotion and protection” of 260 million migrant women
“There are over 260 million migrant women in the world. Travelers and witnesses of hope, strength, the ability to want to change the world.
“It is for this reason that, on the occasion of International Women’s Day on 8 March, we have chosen 7 images of migrant women who express their desire for redemption, to fight violence and abuse and who see women as a pillar of fundamental and universal values of society.
“The campaign is relaunched by all the communities where the Scalabrinians are operating”.
With these words, Sister Neusa de Fatima Mariano, Superior General of the Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters, described to the Vatican Agenzia Fides the campaign launched in three languages (Italian, English and Portuguese) on the social pages of the nuns.
“The goal is to make universal concepts of acceptance, integration, promotion and protection viral, adding, however, aspects of stories more typical of the female universe, such as the violence that they are forced to suffer even during their migration”, Sister Neusa adds.
“There are small and large actions that increase women’s self-esteem and their desire for redemption: it is also right to work on this issue.
“Consecrated women are at the service of migrants, women who have in their minds the dimension of life itself.
“The Church is a ‘mother’ and Pope Francis has repeatedly had the opportunity to express it in a concrete way”.
Talitha Kum, international network of nuns against trafficking, sets up new partnership in Ethiopia
In the meantime, Talitha Kum, the international network of Consecrated Life against human trafficking, has set up a new network in Ethiopia with the collaboration of the British Embassy to the Holy See, as Vatican News reports.
It is estimated that over 40 million people are victims of human trafficking worldwide. War, poverty, inequality and displacement are major factors in rendering people particularly vulnerable to trafficking and modern slavery.
They are used for cheap labour, exploited for sex work, for warfare and killed for their organs.
Public awareness regarding the phenomenon, described by Pope Francis as a crime against humanity, has grown exponentially thanks to the work of religious, of faith-based organizations and of governments who have responded to his repeated calls to tackle this scourge, this “open wound on the body of contemporary society”.
In the forefront of the fight to end human trafficking is Talitha Kum, an international network of Consecrated Life against trafficking in persons.
This expanding reality is a project of the International Union of Superiors General that coordinates and strengthens the already existing activities against trafficking undertaken by consecrated persons in the five continents.
Talitha Kum is present in almost 100 countries on the five continents. The latest networks to be added in Africa are in Ethiopia and Mozambique, makes for 11 networks on the continent.
British Ambasador to the Holy See Sally Axworthy notes that tackling modern slavery has been a priority for her government for quite some time and says the Embassy tries to address the issue in a comprehensive response.
She explains there are many elements to that: “what we do at home, the Modern Slavery Act, a system for supporting victims, a Law Enforcement framework,” etc.
She says overseas operations are also key and foresee collaboration with countries, participation in UN initiatives and other organizations.
“But a very important part is working with religious sisters because they bring something unique to this effort,” she says.
The religious sisters, Ambassador Axworthy notes, are present on the ground “with the survivors, they often identify the victims, they can engender trust among victims which is more difficult for governments or law enforcement officials to do.
And beyond that, she continues, they have a very important role “not just in supporting victims and rehabilitating them, but also in understanding what the trafficking roots are, how people are exploited and helping us, as governments, understand how this whole network of international crime operates.”
(With reporting by Fides and Vatican News)