2014 Caritas Internationalis Conference on Anti-Trafficking
"Every human being is made in the image and likeness of God!"
This was the over-arching theme of the ‘2014 Caritas Internationalis Conference on Anti-Trafficking’ held in mid-February in Jakarta. Cathy Jambet RSM and Maryanne Kolkia RSM from PNG joined about 40 others from 17 different countries in the Asia-Pacific region at this important gathering. They write:
As we listened to the many stories, and heard of the extraordinary experiences of many lay people and religious in the area of human trafficking – we were very moved. We learned that exploitation comes in many forms – namely, the ritual removal of organs and other body parts; forced marriages; pornography; child soldiers; forced labour; illegal adoptions and the buying and selling of children, the trafficking of women for sex and slavery and the trafficking of men as forced labour. These practices clearly reflect a terrifying lack of respect for human beings.
In our globalised world, the poor people of the earth can too often be used as commodities to fill the wallets of some unscrupulous "operators!" We came to the realisation that the underlying causes of human trafficking are poverty and greed. In developing countries those who are materially poor are among the most vulnerable. When people (mostly women) are promised a better life elsewhere, they can easily fall victim to human traffickers, who virtually enslave them for their own profit. Throughout the conference we often asked ourselves "How could a person treat a fellow human being in such a cruel way?"
A challenge identified by representatives from each country, was the implementation of human trafficking laws within their own lands. Prosecuting traffickers seems impossible without each nation’s respective government’s efforts to safeguard and protect human rights. We note that Papua New Guinea as a sovereign nation – an independent state – is no different when it comes to implementing its own laws!
We hope to work together to prevent all forms of trafficking in humans, locally and internationally and we propose to:
– use the local ISMAPNG Mercy newsletter to promote awareness of human trafficking among our Sisters and those with whom they minister in villages, churches, schools and other gatherings.
– network with priests, religious, NGOs and other established organisations in the law and justice sectors.
– continue networking with Sisters who are members of peace and justice committees and ACRATH, as well as those with access to the Mercy desk at the United Nations.
– network with members of Caritas Asia to share and assist with planning and resources.
We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in this important gathering in Jakarta. We hope that more Sisters may have the opportunity to attend subsequent Caritas Internationalis Human Trafficking Conferences – for us it was both an unforgettable and invaluable experience!
Cathy Jambet RSM and Maryanne Kolkia RSM
Photo Left to right – Cathy Jambet rsm, Kathy Fagan and Maryanne Kolkia rsm