Networking is one of the most powerful ways of having good organization and institutions do great things together. This is one way which makes individuals contribute and have their voices heard without competing with each other. In our world today, this is the only way we can afford to have an impact in our fields due to the diversity in the problems we face.
Pope Francis’s wish was to have youths from all over the world who have been working with trafficking cases and prostitution or have been victims of these crimes to come together and find solutions for our nations in ending these objectifying crimes. This led to a symposium on Young People Against Prostitution and Human Trafficking: The Greatest Violence Against Women being held on the 15th and the 16th of November 2014. The Pope has rightly identified these crimes as ones of the most urgent social challenges for the globalised world.
The symposium took place in the Casina Pio IV in the Vatican which is the headquarters of the pontifical Academy. It aimed at giving young people from all over the world a chance to speak about some of the following topics:
- Condemn prostitution as a human rights violation and trafficking in persons as a crime against humanity around the world, beyond the particularities that each country adopts
- Strengthen the visibility and/or promote actions aiming at prevention adopted as an instrument of rights recognition and defense.
- Strengthen family structures as an anchor and support of a world of possibilities and opportunities for all to build a more just, equitable and inclusive society.
- Empowering young people to play a leading role within the state and civil society to change the paradigm and imagine a world without violence and prostitution, free of human trafficking.
HAART, being a COATNET members, was requested to provide a young person who has been dealing with victims of human trafficking in the past two year. I happened to be chosen for the role and I was required to provide a paper on “Young@HAART – Youths fighting human trafficking in Kenya”.
On the first day of the symposium, I shared my experiences with dealing with victims of human trafficking and how I have seen them transform and become super survivors. The challenges we encounter in our field in Kenya, like lack of political will to implement the Trafficking in Persons Act and lack of cooperation from law enforcers, seemed to be the norm in most of the countries that were represented at the symposium. However, from the African countries which were represented, Kenya was the only African country where we have its people being trafficked to Europe and other continents in the world. Forced labor is the most common form of exploitation in Kenya but we have a growing sex tourism industry down at the coast where we have alarming numbers of children involved in prostitution being reported every day.
Other young people from all over the world (Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America) also had a chance to share their experiences in their field of work when it comes to fighting against modern forms of slavery. Asian and European countries appeared to be source and destination areas for trafficked people for sexual exploitation. Some organizations were also purely dealing with the hospitality sector where they directly deal with hotels in fighting modern day slavery. We were all using similar methods to combat the crimes and the delegates were open to share their instruments and strategies with the other delegates to implement in their own countries. HAART borrowed a few of these and we hope to integrate them in our programs next year.
A number of survivors of human trafficking also had a chance to share their experiences and the impact they have had on their governments and other victims of trafficking. The work they are doing in their countries is commendable. It was clear from all the presentations that human trafficking and prostitution are global problems. All sectors need to be involved for us to be successful in eliminating these crimes out of our world by 2020.
The Pope came and shared his views concerning this issue on the last day of the symposium. This clearly showed how committed he is and how this was an initiative that is close to his heart.
- Prevention of trafficking in persons
- Advocacy to have the policies on trafficking of persons implemented
- Dignified shelters for survivors of trafficking
- Networking and use of existing structures in the religious institutions
- Training on safe migration
- Pushing the government to do all that which needs to be done in fighting human trafficking and prostitution as clearly stated in the declaration made after the two day symposium.
These were the main recommendations which were brought forward and representatives from all countries requested to implement them in their programmes.
Women, men and children must be rescued, rehabilitated and reintegrated to form a new global family where everybody has an important role to play to ensure that we live in harmony, peace and love. Traffickers are highly organized in forming their networks, and so must we be if we want to defeat them.
As we celebrate this Christmas, let us ensure that our activities do not fuel human trafficking. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!