Pope Francis' Anti-Trafficking Initiatives
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Politics and Activism

Pope Francis' Anti-Trafficking Initiatives

The Pope has helped put modern-day slavery at the forefront of international human rights concerns.

Pope Francis' Anti-Trafficking Initiatives

“Put a face to it. Remember me when fighting human trafficking,” said Rani Hong.

The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS) organized a weekend workshop themed on assisting human trafficking victims, in which many victims, including Hong, shared their unspeakable stories of being abused and trapped by traffickers as children.

Physically coerced into submission by being kept in a cage at the age of seven by her trafficker, Hong was forcibly taken from her parents, and by the following year, her physical and mental health had deteriorated to a nearly fatal extent. Rani Hong and her husband Trong – who fled Vietnam at the age of nine to avoid the exploitation of recruitment as a child soldier – now lead the Tronie Foundation, a UN accredited nonprofit organization dedicated to the cause of freedom, working within supply chains to root out slavery from the starting sources.

This workshop is a part of Pope Francis’ years of dedication to the anti-trafficking cause, from his time as an Archbishop in Buenos Aires in 2013 to his involvement in the OSCE’s April Conference in Vienna and his recent order this past August for Archbishop Sorondo of PASS to lead an investigation into the marks of exploitation in the international fishing industry. Pope Francis and former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon were present at a gathering in September 2015 in which Sustainable Development goals to be achieved by 2030 (including the end to poverty and hunger and increased access to education and healthcare) were outlined and later came to include the eradication of trafficking as a part of goal 8 by 2025.

In Hong's speech at the workshop, as she discussed the growing practice of child trafficking and child selling for adoption, Hong highlighted a harrowing and striking feature of human trafficking which differentiates this crime from others it is often compared to: “In drug trafficking, you sell the product once. Children are sold over and over and over. Selling children for adoption is increasing, but it’s not being discussed.”

It is with this disturbing reality in mind and its outright disregard for and abuse of human life and dignity that Pope Francis continues to lead the antislavery cause with the hope, as President of PASS Margaret Archer expresses, that more Catholics and communities are moved to become involved at the grassroots level themselves.

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