Nuns fight trafficking in Haiyan-hit areas

Sisters in the Talitha Kum network have been involved in rescue operations of trafficked victims and bringing them to safety in Singapore, Sri Lanka, India, Germany, Philippines, Australia and Italy.

December 17 2013, 3:40 PM
Nuns fight trafficking in Haiyan-hit areas
A seminar-workshop conducted by the Sisters in Talitha Kum in Bangkok. (File Picture)

An anti-trafficking network of nuns, Talitha Kum, has been actively working among typhoon Haiyan survivors in the Philippines to fight human trafficking.

Talitha Kum (Little girl, arise) was established in 2009 by the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), so that consecrated women could share and maximize resources for prevention, awareness raising and denouncement of trafficking in persons, and protection and assistance of victims and vulnerable persons.

“Talitha Kum has also linked up with government, professional, faith-based and other organizations, said its coordinator, Sister Estrella Castalone of the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, at a recent Asia-Oceania conference of women religious in Tagaytay City, south of Manila.

Sisters in the Talitha Kum network have been involved in rescue operations of trafficked victims and bringing them to safety in Singapore, Sri Lanka, India, Germany, the Philippines, Australia and Italy. It conducts counter-trafficking missions through 22 member networks in 75 countries with more than 600 sisters involved.

It has developed activities through partnerships established by UISG central office in Rome with a network of local anti-trafficking teams.

The highly organized traffickers exploitand enslave men, women and children using deception and coercion. Castalone said, "It is only through an equally well-organized network that links the countries of origin to those of transit and destination that we can prevent the weakest and the most vulnerable from becoming a human commodity."

About 12.5 million to 27 million people reportedly live within the criminal circle of human trafficking, with women and girls accounting for 75% of victims. 58% of detected cases involve sexual exploitation, while 36% were for forced labour.

To offer protection for victims, networks of sisters put up and operate shelters. Nuns also give victims counselling and debriefing, legal assistance and skills training aimed at their healing and recovery for an eventual reintegration into society or for returning to their native country.

To prevent vulnerable people from falling prey to illegal recruiters and human traffickers, Talitha Kum's sisters train religious and lay pastoral workers. Sisters also conduct seminar-workshops and campaigns to increase public awareness and put vulnerable people on guard.

Talitha Kum had organized anti-human-trafficking campaigns during world events such as the 2010 Football World Cup in South Africa and the 2012 Olympics in London involving massive human mobility, which is a fertile ground for human trafficking.

Talitha Kum members also offer skills training and financial assistance for micro-industries, especially for women and youth in depressed areas to counter the attraction of indiscriminate migration, Castelone said.

Source:  National Catholic Reporter

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