Religious women associate human trafficking with family homelessness
The nuns of UNANIMA International have launched a new publication with the results of their research on the links between human trafficking and family homelessness. At the launch of “The Intersections of Family Homelessness and Human Trafficking,” during an international webinar on May 11, speakers from Australia, Philippines, India, Italy, Albania, United States and Ireland highlighted the vulnerability of homeless people to trafficking. He was welcomed by Sr Jean Quinn, Congregation of the Daughters of Wisdom and Executive Director of UNANIMA International.
UNANIMA International is a coalition of nuns from 83 countries who advocate for women and children, especially those living in poverty, migrants and refugees, the homeless and displaced, and in the context of environmental issues. . Its work takes place primarily at United Nations Headquarters in New York, and the current focus is on homelessness and displacement. Addressing family homelessness, displacement and trauma is integral to achieving the 2030 Agenda for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the commitment to “ leave no one behind, especially those who are are the most left behind. ”
During the webinar, Sr. Imelda Poole, IBVM, President of RENATE Europe (Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation), drew on her work at Mary Ward Loreto in Albania to highlight cross-border operational transits affecting marginalized people in Albanian society. She linked the seriousness of the situation of the Roma community in Albania to the Romanian undocumented girls living on the streets at Euston station in London. Imelda argued that ineffective legislation plays a role in the intersections of family homelessness and human trafficking while in many countries around the world, domestic workers – largely immigrant women – are often not not protected by labor legislation. In Britain, thousands of identified trafficking victims are now lost in the system and they cannot access benefits. They are offered work and they disappear. Imelda warned against the “decivilization” of human society.
Sr. Amarachi Grace Ezeonu, SND, representing the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at the UN, told the story of a homeless mother and her young daughter in northern Nigeria to whom a man who befriended offered them housing and work. Then one day he was gone and took the young girl with him, leaving the mother distraught. Their vulnerability has left them exposed to exploitation.
Sr. Noelene Simmons, Australian Catholic Religious Against Human Trafficking (ACRATH), reported on emerging issues of migrants and homelessness in Oceania. A trafficked Filipino woman shared her heartbreaking story of surviving prostitution while being homeless. She attributed her recovery to the support she received from nuns who guided her rehabilitation and opened up choices in her life.
The coordinator of Talitha Kum – a network of Catholic nuns working in the fight against human trafficking – Gabriella Bottani, spoke about transnational and collaborative work against human trafficking in 92 countries on seven continents. Its theme for the 2021 International Day of Prayer Against Human Trafficking on February 8, An Economy Without Human Trafficking, highlighted the dominant economic model as a major cause of human trafficking.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was mentioned by all stakeholders. Imelda highlighted the closure of homeless shelters and day centers; the closing of police counters; charities and non-governmental organizations put staff on leave and the ensuing lack of support to protect the homeless. All of this has contributed to destitute and desperate populations falling into the hands of predators, seizing opportunities to exploit those who are most vulnerable.
Referring to research conducted by a UK-based foundation, Street Links, www.streetlink.org.uk, Imelda stressed that displaced people have human rights and are members of society and yet they suffer daily deprivation and discrimination. With the increase in unemployment resulting from the pandemic, hundreds of homeless people are being recruited into the “slave” labor of street corners and soup kitchens, lured by empty promises of money, food, drink or money. drugs. Imelda spoke of people locked in squalid conditions, beaten, forced to work tirelessly hours and without access to basic human rights. She challenged those who live in the UK, with, “which of us can say we don’t know much about this” now that radio shows like The Archers and TV shows dramas such as Grey’s Anatomy have incorporated themes of human trafficking and homelessness. in various episodes over the past year? “She underlined our complicity in the factors contributing to human trafficking: systemic poverty, family breakdown leading to dysfunction, homelessness as we demand cheaper goods and services to maximize profits.
She felt there was a moral imperative to respond, raise awareness and undertake research and advocacy. Awareness in overnight shelters, for example, is undertaken by The Clewer Initative https://theclewerinitiative.org. The launch of “The Intersections of Family Homelessness and Human Trafficking” is an important contribution to this mission.
Anne Kelleher is in charge of RENATE Communications.
See the full report, “ The Intersections of Family Homelessness and Human Trafficking ” at:
Keywords: Trafic, RENATE, UNANIMA, Sr Jean Quinn, Sr Imelda Poole, Roma, Sr Amarachi Grace Ezeonu, Sr Noelene Simmons, Talitha Kum, Anne Kelleher, Gabriella Bottani
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