July 07, 2016
Author: Christopher Cox
The International Labor Organization reports that 20.9 million women, men and children are trapped in modern-day slavery with jobs into which they were coerced or deceived and which they cannot leave. Of that number, 26%, or 5.5. million persons, are children. As well, the U.S. Department of Labor has found that Argentina, Bangladesh, India, Thailand, and Vietnam use trafficked children in the making of garments. Thus, we find it very hopeful that the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations hosted a conference last week on “Eliminating Trafficking of Children and Youth.”
From the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations:
On July 13, the Holy See sponsored an event at UN Headquarters in New York entitled Eliminating Trafficking of Children and Youth, in collaboration with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, ECPAT-USA, Salesians of Don Bosco, and the NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons, to discuss best methods in combatting the growing problem of children and youth falling victim to human trafficking.
“While human trafficking always exploits the vulnerable, the trafficking of children and youth exploits those most vulnerable of all,” Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN said in his opening statement. “This conference seeks to make real the faces of the nearly two million children and youth who are presently being trafficked and speak about what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs to be done to free them, help them recover, and prevent other young people from suffering as they have.”
Panelists included an array of experts who combat policy in different facets. Sheila McClain, a survivor of childhood trafficking now works to help other victims of trafficking as Director of Survivor Services of End Slavery Tennessee. Yu Ping Chan combats trafficking in her role with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and shared the measures the UN takes to eliminate the scourge of trafficking. Sister Angela Reed from the Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans said the main cause of trafficking is demand and charted out what everyone could do to help prevent others from being absorbed into this form of modern slavery. Kevin Cassidy of the International Labour Organization focused on trafficking children for labor, noting the importance the private sector has in eliminating exploitation by paying attention to supply chains. Jayne Bigelsen, Director of Anti-Human Trafficking Initiatives at New York City’s Covenant House, emphasized the overwhelming number of homeless youth as those particularly susceptible to trafficking. Carol Smolenski of ECPAT-USA brought attention to how the Internet is misused by traffickers, but also how it can also aid in identifying predators and rescuing victims.
Archbishop Auza’s statement can be found here. Those interested in watching the event in its entirety can view it on UN Web TV.
Source: Press release of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations
See also: America magazine had fine coverage of the conference here: The ‘Growing Scourge’ of Human Trafficking. Vatican Radio also provided coverage: Holy See: Trafficking of children is “abominable.”