07/24/2017, 14.13

Human Trafficking in Asia: women of different religions mobilise

by Santosh Digal

For the first time, the role of women is highlighted as a key to prevent the new slave trade. Nearly 45 million people are victim of trafficking all over the world, nearly two thirds in Asia. For Sister Cecilian Espenilla of Talitha Kum, an organisation of Catholic women, modern slavery is opposed by all religious traditions. It is a crime against humanity and a serious offense against God.

Manila (AsiaNews) – The Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ARCP) held the International Conference of Women Empowerment Against Modern Day Slavery at the University of Santo Tomas in Sampaloc, Manila, from 20 to 22 July 2017 as part of the UN World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

For the first time, the role of women in multi-faith traditions was stressed as key to reviving family values and, as consequence, preventing the trafficking of vulnerable women and children.

At the meeting, representatives of various religious communities, faith-based organisations, and human rights advocate groups, talked about the complexities and the dehumanising adverse effects of modern day slavery. 

Participants heard that the number of trafficked women and children is growing. The 2016 Global Slavery Index (GSI) reveals that there are nearly 45 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, nearly two-thirds in Asia.

Because of their vulnerability, millions continue to be forced into bonded labour, commercial sex and child soldiering. 

“We are aware that the advancement of technology, the rise of globalisation and the increasing economic divide between rich and poor countries have exacerbated the demand-supply of the modern-day slavery,” said Lilian Sison, secretary general of Religions for Peace Philippines and event organiser. “[M]odern-day slavery is one of the most lucrative global industries,” she added.

What is more, “We are saddened by the fact that traditional protectors such as parents, mothers, grandparents and relatives have fallen prey to the lure of economic gain due to abject poverty thereby becoming conduits to the abuses done to their own children and family members.” Sadly, “the breakdown of traditional values has made the home, the first line of care for the children and women, as the very site of abominable abuses,” she noted.

One of the issues that raised concerns among the conference delegates is Asia’s seemingly weak criminal justice system and ineffective law-enforcement, which have favoured large-scale modern-day slavery.

Participants decided to stand together in solidarity and observe the United Nations’ World Day against Trafficking in Persons every 30 July.  They also support, subscribe to and are commit to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised crime (2000), the Palermo Protocol, and other International instruments concerning human trafficking.

“We declare that modern day slavery is contrary to the teachings and values of all religious traditions,” said Sister Cecilian Espenilla, who works with Talitha Kum, an organisation of Catholic women established by the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) in 2009. “Modern day slavery is a crime against humanity, and a grave offense against God”.

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