The Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking present guidelines to fight this “atrocious scourge" and get to the roots of the problem, i.e. economic exploitation. This means stressing the legal and moral responsibility of “buyers” as well as convincing states and institutions to help and defend the victims.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development released today two documents on the issue of human trafficking (HT) and the care of its victims: Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking and Lights on the Path of Hope – Teachings of Pope Francis on migrants, refugees and trafficking.
Fighting the "atrocious scourge" of human trafficking, i.e. modern slavery, requires international collaboration and mobilisation to go to the roots of the phenomenon, namely economic exploitation. This means highlighting the responsibilities of those who "buy" the "product", convincing states and institutions to help and defend victims, and promoting awareness and training of those who address the problem.
The Orientations are meant as support for those involved, starting naturally with the Church, said Pope Francis. The Church “wants to protect them [the victims] from deception and solicitation; she wants to find them and free them when they are transported and reduced to slavery; she wants to assist them once they are freed.”
In light of this, “All Catholics should proactively engage in making societies more just, respectful and inclusive, eliminating all forms of exploitation, especially those that are most ruthless.”
Behind trafficking is a desire to exploit others, the document notes. “The exploitation of others has perversely but quietly been accepted as a means to achieve one’s own pleasure and gain”, thanks to criminal and sinful behaviour.
“Increasingly competitive markets compel firms to cut labour costs and access raw materials at the lowest possible price. Frequently, workers have no choice but to sign contracts with exploitative conditions.”
Publicly, “much attention is paid to traffickers who provide the supply side of HT [. . .]. Considering the different areas in which the victims of HT work or operate (agriculture, domestic work, prostitution and so on), the consumers constitute a huge mass who seem largely unaware of the exploitation of persons who are trafficked, yet enjoy the benefits and services they provide.”
Since economics is the basis of human trafficking, “society itself will have to change” and everybody “will need to simplify their needs, control their habits, rein in their appetites.”
Indeed, “The economic, social and cultural phenomena that are shaping modern societies need to be subjected to profound ethical assessment. It is vital to safeguard the dignity of the human person, in particular by offering everyone real opportunities for integral human development and by implementing economic policies that favour the family. Pope Benedict XVI taught that ‘the Church’s social doctrine can make a specific contribution”.
“To reduce the demand that drives HT, accountability, prosecution and punishment are needed along the entire chain of exploitation, from the recruiters and traffickers to the consumers. [. . .] States should [thus] consider criminalizing those who take advantage of prostitution or of other uses of sexual exploitation provided by those who have been trafficked.” This should include all “sexual services”, including cybersex.
“Sadly, people who are trafficked are often manipulated and trapped in psychological schemes that do not enable them to escape, to ask for help or even to have a clear understanding of having been – or worse, of actually still being – victims of criminal activity.”
At the same time, “many of those potentially on the front line, such as law enforcement officers, public prosecutors, judicial authorities and social and health professionals” must be “sufficiently trained to identify and deal with victims of HT with all the competence, discretion and sensitivity they require.”
The document then notes that although people and migrations are distinct realities, "increasingly restrictive migration policies" mean that those who favour irregular migration end up helping human trafficking, taking advantage of people's weaknesses.
In any case, “The most radical form of prevention” ought to be “upholding the right to remain in one’s country and place of origin and ensuring that people have access there to basic goods” whilst “more accessible legal pathways for safe and orderly migration are provided.”
Finally, the document turns to victims’ rehabilitation. The latter “should be assured a safe return, proper assistance in their place of origin and effective protection against being trafficked again or subjected to retaliation or harassment by the traffickers. Supportive services should be available to survivors and their families. Job-training and ready access to employment are very important.
“Without full reintegration, the terrible trajectory of HT will not be dismantled, nor will stigma and suffering be left behind, nor the HT survivor made whole or offered a chance to live a life worthy of his or her human rights and dignity.” (FP)
For the full document, click here.