Archbishop Speaks to United Nations About the Scourge of Human Trafficking

Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, recently spoke on the issue of human trafficking. Highlights of his speech are:

The Global Plan of Action has provided the United Nations with a resource for working together to combat all forms of human trafficking and for ensuring that confronting human trafficking remains one of the top issues of concern for the international community. However, such political commitments must be backed by concrete actions on the ground, so as to ensure that victims are freed from this repugnant form of contemporary slavery, and are given the necessary assistance to rebuild their lives.

Effective juridical instruments are crucial to cease this abominable trade in human beings, to prosecute its profiteers, and to assist the rehabilitation and reintegration of its victims. To this end, the creation of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children by the Global Plan of Action provides a tangible means for ensuring support for those who suffer the dehumanizing impact of being trafficked.

We must also work to address those societal factors which foster the environment that makes human trafficking possible. One such overriding factor is the increasing commodification of human life. Such commodification can be seen in the women and girls who are trafficked each year for the sole purpose of making money from the sale of their bodies. There is indeed an urgent need here to challenge lifestyles and models of behavior, particularly with regard to the image of women, which have generated what has become a veritable industry of sexual exploitation. Commodification of human beings unfortunately does not lie solely in the realm of sexual exploitation, but can also be seen in unrelenting consumerist tendencies that demand more for less without due regard for the rights of workers. Participating in a globalized economy requires adequate regulations to ensure that the qualitative, subjective value of human work is given precedence over purely quantifiable, objective product. In so doing, we can help foster a deeper and richer ethical understanding of the value and dignity of human labor and fashion economic and social systems that respect human rights.

It is necessary to recognize that it is extreme poverty which often drives those desirous of a better future into the hands of those preying upon the vulnerability of the poor and the defenseless. These individuals, prompted by a genuine desire to provide for themselves and their needy families, too easily become unsuspecting victims of those who make false promises of a better future in another country or community. Our efforts to address human trafficking are inherently linked, therefore, to our determination to address poverty eradication and lack of equal economic opportunity.

The Catholic Church, through its institutions and agencies around the world, is providing assistance, care and support to thousands of survivors of human trafficking. Many of these individuals have paid dearly in their endeavours to provide assistance to victims or expose the victimizers. The Holy See regards today’s debate and assessment of the Global Plan of Action as a good opportunity to reinvigorate our efforts to address the evil of human trafficking so that men and women who fall prey to such trafficking will know that we stand in solidarity with them and that we will not cease in our efforts to ensure that today’s victims of human trafficking become tomorrow’s survivors.

Learn more at the News.VA article: Archbishop Chullikatt: The scourge of human trafficking.

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