An Asian level inter-faith conference held in the Philippines last week underscored the role of women in preventing the modern day scourge of human trafficking. The Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP) organized the International Conference of Women Empowerment Against Modern Day Slavery at the University of Santo Tomas in Sampaloc, Manila, from 20 to 22 July 2017 in the run-up to the United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons, July 30. ACRP is the part of Religions for Peace, the largest international coalition of representatives from the world’s religions active in more than 90 countries.
At the meeting, representatives of various religious communities, faith-based organizations, and human rights advocate groups, talked about the complexities and the dehumanizing adverse effects of modern day slavery. For the first time, the role of women in multi-faith traditions was stressed as key to reviving family values and, as consequence, preventing the trafficking of vulnerable women and children.
Poverty fuels modern-day slavery
According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index (GSI), there are nearly 45 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, nearly two-thirds of them in Asia. Because of their poverty and vulnerability, millions continue to be forced into bonded labour, commercial sex and child soldiering.
“We are aware that the advancement of technology, the rise of globalization and the increasing economic divide between rich and poor countries have exacerbated the demand-supply of the modern-day slavery,” said the organizer of the event, Lilian Sison, secretary general of Religions for Peace Philippines. “We are saddened by the fact that traditional protectors such as parents, mothers, grandparents and relatives have fallen prey to the lure of economic gain due to abject poverty thereby becoming conduits to the abuses done to their own children and family members.” Sadly, “the breakdown of traditional values has made the home, the first line of care for the children and women, as the very site of abominable abuses,” she noted.
Justice and law - ineffective
One of the issues that raised concerns among the conference delegates is Asia’s seemingly weak criminal justice system and ineffective law-enforcement, which have favoured large-scale modern-day slavery. Participants decided to stand together in solidarity and observe the United Nations’ World Day against Trafficking in Persons.
Slavery - offence against God
“We declare that modern day slavery is contrary to the teachings and values of all religious traditions,” said Dominican Sister Cecilian Espenilla, who works with Talitha Kum, an organization of Catholic women established by the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) in 2009. “Modern day slavery is a crime against humanity, and a grave offense against God,” Sr. Espenilla stressed. (Source: AsiaNews)