Archbishop Chullikatt: The scourge of human trafficking
(Vatican Radio) Below is a speech made by the Permanent Observer to the United Nations
in New York, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt on the issue of human trafficking
Today’s meeting presents the international community with an opportunity
not only to assess the progress achieved since the adoption of the United Nations
Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons in 2010, but also to renew
our commitment to work together and to condemn with one voice the abhorrent and immoral
practice of trafficking in human beings.
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.
The mobility of people across national
boundaries is a human experience affecting all countries and regions of the world.
It is a reality which presents opportunities to foster greater understanding between
peoples and jointly to improve the social and economic well-being of migrants and
their families. For too many,however, the reality of migration is no longer
a matter of free choice, but rather has become a necessity. This sense of desperation
provides human traffickers the opportunity to prey on migrants and has contributed
to making human trafficking one of the fastest growing criminal activities in today’s
Trafficking in persons constitutes a shameful crime against human
dignity and a grave violation of fundamental human rights. Those who commit such crimes
debase themselves and poison human solidarity. People are never to be used or treated
as instruments for unscrupulous profit-mongering through being forced into slavery,
which always constitutes an affront to the dignity of human nature and to fundamental
values shared by humanity.
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.
political, social and legal protections are indispensable to combating the scourge
of human trafficking, 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.
Trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation accounts for 58
per cent of all cases reported globally and demonstrates how increased demand fuels
this market for human slavery and tolerates its immense human costs.
a grim reminder that prostitution and consumers of so-called “sexual services” not
only contribute to the trafficking of women and girls but also disrespect their human
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. Around the world, forced labor accounts for more than a quarter
of victims of trafficking. This is a stark reminder that 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
Addressing human trafficking remains an elusive
goal if the courage to address the dark reality of consumerism feeding the exploitation
of vulnerable human beings is lacking. In this regard, it is necessary to recognize
that it is extreme poverty whichoften 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.
This link recognizes that economic
poverty inherently opens the door to exclusion and exploitation by those whose moral
and spiritual poverty no longer allows them to see people in need as brothers and
sisters to be respected, protected and cared for, but merely as a means to an end.
The Catholic Church, through its institutions and agencies around
the world, is providing assistance, care and support to thousands of survivors of
human trafficking. These institutions and their courageous individuals place themselves
in harm’s way on a daily basis to help those who have become victims to this modern
plague 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.