Newscast Media ROME—Representatives of the Catholic, Anglican and Muslim worlds gathered for the first time ever in the Vatican press office on Monday for the launch of a Global Freedom Network aimed at eradicating human trafficking by the end of the decade. Philippa Hitchen went along to witness this historic event:
The groundbreaking agreement to work closely together across the different faith communities was signed by Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo on behalf of Pope Francis.
The Argentinian bishop is chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Sciences which brought together a broad coalition of anti-trafficking experts for a workshop last November. He was joined by New Zealand Archbishop David Moxon, director of the Anglican Centre here in Rome and representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy See.
Also on hand to sign the founding declaration was Dr Mahmoud Azab, representing the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, one of the most important centers of Sunni Islam located in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
By mobilizing the world’s major faith communities, this new Network hopes to bring an end by 2020 to what Pope Francis has dared to call a crime against humanity. Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo:
“It’s not politically correct to call this modern slavery a crime against humanity but
we want to arrive at that in national and international law….”
Statistics show some 30 million men, women and children are currently caught in the clutches of human traffickers and that figure is believed by many to be just the tip of the iceberg. Organizers of this Global Freedom Network are hoping to touch the hearts of all believers to help put an end to this exploitation which they call a shameful affront to our common humanity.
Source: Vatican Radio
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The Obama administration, as part of its commitment to fight human trafficking, has produced the first Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States. The five-year plan, released this month, lays out a path for increased collaboration among more than 15 U.S. federal government agencies.
The plan defines human trafficking as a crime that involves the exploitation of a person for the purpose of compelled labor or a commercial sex act.
Sex trafficking, which is part of human trafficking, is a federal crime and is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a [commercial] sex act in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.
While it is difficult to measure the magnitude of human trafficking, the International Labour Organization estimates that more than 20 million men, women and children are victimized by forced labor and sex trafficking worldwide, including the United States.
Many of these victims are lured with false promises of well-paying jobs or manipulated by people they trust. They are forced or coerced into prostitution, domestic servitude, or other types of forced labor.
“While there is no defining characteristic that all victims share, traffickers frequently prey on individuals who are poor, vulnerable, living in an unsafe situation, or are in search of a better life,” the report says. “Whether made to work in agriculture, a factory or a strip club, forced into commercial sex, or abused in a home as a domestic servant, [U.S.] federal law recognizes these people as victims of human trafficking.”
Although the plan focuses on combating human trafficking in the United States, President Obama, in designating January 2014 as “National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month,” called upon the international community to join forces in ending this scourge.
“Because modern-day slavery is a global tragedy, combating it requires international action,” Obama said in his proclamation.
Dismantling trafficking networks and aiding victims are only part of the work that needs to be done by the United States and the international community, Obama said.