(Vatican Radio) Italian Consolata Sister Eugenia Bonetti, a driving force in the fight
against trafficking and prostitution, was among the recipients of the European Citizen’s
Prize 2013. The annual award was launched by the European Parliament in 2008 to recognise
exceptional achievements by individual citizens or groups who facilitate cross-border
cooperation within the EU or promote better mutual understanding between citizens
and member states. It can also be awarded for day-to-day activities reflecting the
values enshrined in the EU's charter of fundamental rights.
Sr Eugenia, who is chairperson of the 'Slaves No More ' non-profit organization and coordinator of the Italian religious superiors’ Counter-trafficking Office for Women and Children, began spearheading the struggle against this modern form of slavery two decades ago….Philippa Hitchen takes a closer look…..
It was back in 1993 that Italian Consolata sister Eugenia Bonetti first started seeing African women standing on the roadsides waiting for clients – a common sight around many of Italy’s larger towns and cities. Sr Eugenia had previously spent over two and half decades working as a missionary in Africa and she was shocked to see how many young girls, mainly Nigerians but also from other African nations, were working as prostitutes back in her home town of Turin.
But then one of these girls, Maria, turned up at the Caritas centre where she worked and followed her to Mass that evening – an event that would profoundly change Eugenia’s life and challenge all her ideas about religious ministry and mission. In short, she says, Maria became her catechist, helping her understand the complex routes by which so many women and girls end up trafficked from places across the globe, to be bought and sold, beaten and raped and end up working the streets of our so-called civilised countries.
Today there are some 27 million victims of a global trafficking industry with a turnover of around 32 billion dollars a year. For the past two decades, Sr Eugenia has been on the frontline of the Catholic Church’s efforts here in Italy to combat this trade in human beings, to break the chains of this modern form of slavery and to help trafficked women regain a sense of hope and dignity in their shattered lives……