05/25/2018, 14.13
INDONESIA
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Nuns against human trafficking take part in workshop to help victims in court

by Mathias Hariyadi

One of the main difficulties that hinders the nuns’ work is the lack of necessary professional qualifications. For four days, the women religious discussed various legal issues with experts and professionals. For Sister Kristina Fransiska, "The goal is to have a shared perception and standard operating procedures".

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – In order to provide paralegal aid to victims of human trafficking, 19 Indonesian nuns, a Franciscan seminarian, a Muslim woman and a Protestant clergyman took part in a symposium on legal issues in East Jakarta between 15 and 18 May, with legal experts and professionals.

For many years, the nuns, who come from various congregations, have been engaged in the fight against human trafficking. One of the main difficulties that hinders their work, however, is the impossibility to follow the criminal proceedings in courts due to the lack of necessary professional qualifications.

Sister Kristina Fransiska, a Passionist nun from Malang (East Java), told AsiaNews that thanks to the seminar, participants were able to understand what they must do to give legal standing to their presence in the courtroom.

"Since we want to take care of victims of human trafficking, it is our interest to take part in the discussion of each case," Sister Kristina said.

The nun is a professional legal expert and a former professor at the Widya Karya Catholic University in Malang. "For year, we have been prevented from accompanying these people to court. This is quite painful," she explained.

The symposium was organised by the Counter Women Trafficking Commission (CWTC), a body of the Association of Indonesian religious women (Ikatan Biarawati Seluruh Indonesia, IBSI).

Through CWTC, IBSI has involved all of the country’s superiors in exploiting the professional skills of the nuns working in the humanitarian apostolate.

Some communities of women religious have built shelters to received and help the victims of trafficking before their return to their village of origin.

Experts and professionals from the Indonesian Human Rights for Women (LBH APIK) presented the topics discussed by workshop participants.

"The goal is to have a shared perception and standard operating procedures when we have to deal with issues relating to victims, especially women and underage workers,” said Sister Kristina. “In recent years, the most vulnerable people have been women."

Some of the topics covered are: gender differentiation and sexual issues; human rights for women; human advocacy movements, groups and communities; public service for victims; counselling programmes and methods; identification of cases, actors and victims; and paralegal competence and other skills.

Sisters Vincent Pmy, a legal expert who graduated from the Unika Soegijapranata University of Semarang, was among the women religious who took part in the workshop.

“The seminar aimed at creating a new atmosphere that allows our work to achieve better results,” she said. “It is a hope that the sisters involved in this particular apostolate can do their best until the trial in court ".

 (Sr Kristina Fransiska CP and Sr Vincent Pmy contributed to this article)

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