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Conferment of Honoris Causa Master of Letters Degree on Sister Joan Garner , Good Shepherd Sister

 

Sr Joan Garner had the surprise of her life when she received a letter handed over to her personally informing her that The University of Malta  will be conferring her an Honoris Causa Master of Letters Degree, the reason being her pioneering work to help women and their children facing all kinds of abuse, victims of prostitution and domestic violence as well as trafficking.

In 1981 the Shelter for domestic violence victims called “ Dar Merhba Bik”  was opened and Sr Joan, missioned by the Congregation “ Our Lady Of Charity of the Good Shepherd  in Malta, managed the shelter  for a whole 16 years facing all kinds of aggression, threats ,dangers, from the perpetrators,  did advocacy, awareness on programs both on  radio, television, interviews on newspapers.

In those days these issues were not talked about in public.  The Honoris Causa ceremony took place on the 19th November 2021 at the  Jesuits` Church in Valletta. Sr Joan`s community was invited She was also described as being a role model for academics.

Spotlight on UK from Sr Mary Patricia Mulhall

 

It is always so encouraging to receive updates from members of the Renate Network, and this week Sister Patricia Mulhall wrote to our Comms team with a wonderful update from her work over the last few months.

Sr Patricia and Sr Marie Power regularly volunteer at Bakhita House in London, which is a safe house for ‘trafficked women’. A lot of work is done among these women to enable them to learn English if it is not their first language and also to have the basic skills in literacy and computers. They are helped to write letters, CVs and other paperwork which will enable them to move on to independent lives.
https://www.caritaswestminster.org.uk/bakhita-house.php

Last year the sisters hosted a series of education and awareness sessions, and Sr Patricia writes,
“ We invited key speakers to some of the sessions: for example,
Sr Miriam Beike (Good Shepherd Sister working at the UN in Geneva) gave the input on Labour Trafficking;
Mr Kevin Hyland (the first independent commissioner for Modern Slavery in the UK) spoke about the difficulties in getting prosecutions;
Karen Anstiss (Manager of Bakhita House) spoke of her experience working with the women, including some of their horrific experiences;
Sr Imelda Poole did a presentation on ‘Empowering Young People to get involved in work of anti-trafficking.’
After the sessions, we provided the group with a list of Resources, NGO Websites, Campaigning organisations so that they could do their own ‘follow up’”

TRAC_UK is a group working on the awareness and campaigning against trafficking in which sisters from 15 difference congregations have participated. These meetings currently take place on zoom with a focus on sharing of information from one another, and the hope that more work will be done later in 2022.

Sr Patricia also writes “Marie and I are invited (as RENATE reps) to the launch of Anna Rowlands book at St Paul’s Cathedral, on Wednesday 9 Feb ‘Towards a Politics of Communion’”.

We look forward to hearing more about this event!

‘New Hope’ cooperative for migrant women finding work in Italy

 

‘New Hope’ is the name of a tailor’s shop in the heart of Caserta, southern Italy, where eight women from different origins and backgrounds work together to give themselves the chance to be independent and live their lives freely.

It started almost 20 years ago as a way to provide migrant women, mainly of African origin, the opportunity to escape from the legacy of human trafficking and start a new life.

“Thanks to an order of a thousand bags from the regional administration in 2004, we had the strength and the courage to invest what we had earned, in order to give the girls the possibility to keep dreaming through this tailor’s shop,” said Mirela Macovei, President of New Hope Cooperative.

Today, the tailor’s shop has opened its doors to all women who want to take control of their own lives. They have put their past behind them, and what matters is what they do now.

One of the workers at the New Hope Cooperative is Happiness Ojo. “Every product here, everything we are doing, all of them talk about something,” she said. “It is like a message sent to other people: there is hope, there is experience, we are trying to explain many things to people.”

From the darkness of their past to the colours of a new life. For these women, being creative with fabric is not only a way to earn their living, but it also represents a tangible sign of their liberation from oppressive conditions.

“We want to be an example,” explained Macovei. “Women are strong enough to pursue their dreams, to be the protagonists of their own life and their family life, not only as mothers and wives but also as independent women, with their own job.”

 

https://www.euronews.com/2022/01/22/new-hope-cooperative-for-migrant-women-finding-work-in-italy

Community House Damaris December 2021-January 2022 Newsletter

 

 

In December, one of our participants got married!

She welcomed the New Year having a loving husband after all the tribulations she has been through, in a safe home of her own!  Our hearts are overflowing with joy!  Our bride, R., was referred to us in 2018, following some difficult experiences that she had gone through from her homeland, Africa -one of them was being trafficked to Turkey, until she met Damaris Family. After graduating from CHD Program, she started taking life in her own hands, trying to work and live independently. The groom is a Christian African man, working at a University in the UK.  R. never forgot Damaris Community, and for one of the happiest days of her life she asked my husband, as a pastor, to officiate the ceremony, and deliver her to the groom as a father.  I was also asked to help her prepare and dress for her special day, and she invited everyone at Damaris to the wedding; as bridesmaids,
guests, the little ones as flower girls etc.  According to her traditions, as she said “it’s important for me to also have a wedding here with my Greek family.” What a great reward for this ministry which adds a positive sign to Damaris House mission:- the empowerment of women and their children, who have been sexually exploited and trafficked, with the opportunity for recovery, restoration, and reintegration!

More News

In September 2021 House Damaris opened a second Safe House, a two-floor house with a capacity of hosting up to 9 more beneficiaries and their babies. Given the fact that according to a recent press release of the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, from the beginning of 2020 until mid-November 2021, the services of the Greek Council for Refugees received requests for support from 1,461 people registered as homeless and / or occupants of squatting, including women and victims of human trafficking, we’ve decided to offer through this Safe House an opportunity of a short-term front line housing which includes  purpose-built classes and services provided exclusively by CHD Day Center.  Currently, after making some needed repairs and furniture additions, this front-line House has started to welcome one-by-one its new CHD Residents!  Many other women are waiting to be welcomed to Damaris Second Safe House, with the opportunity to experience a family-style community with a lot of diversities, languages, cultures, backgrounds, but united under the common goal of a meaningful independent living in the frame of integration, with the freedom of the Gospel. In the midst of a great refugee crisis in Greece, God keeps providing richly. We continue with what we have, praying and looking with faith at what will come out of His hand. Thank you so much for your consideration and prayers.

Love in Christ,
Dina Petrou – Founder and Director

 

https://www.gcr.gr/en/

https://www.in.gr/2022/01/19/greece/prosfygiko-ekthesi-gia-ta-stegastika-provlimata-pou-antimetopizoun-aitountes-asylo/

REP. CHRIS SMITH HIGHLIGHTS BIPARTISAN BILL ON NATIONAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING AWARENESS DAY

 

11.1.22

In recognition of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Jan. 11, a New Jersey congressman is calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a bipartisan piece of legislation intended to combat what his office calls “modern-day slavery.”
“Human traffickers have benefitted from a culture of denial and a lack of awareness throughout our communities,” U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) said in a Jan. 11 press release. “Education and awareness programs — especially and including those provided by local grassroots organizations — are the victim’s best friend and the trafficker’s worst nightmare and go a long way toward preventing this heinous crime in the first place.”
That is why he and U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) authored the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2021 (H.R. 5150), first introduced in September.
According to Smith, the act would provide “approximately $1.6 billion over five years to strengthen and expand education, awareness and other critical programs that protect victims, prosecute perpetrators and prevent trafficking.”
In an effort to fight human trafficking, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops hosts an Anti-Trafficking Program to “educate on the scourge of human trafficking as an offense against fundamental dignity of the human person, to advocate for an end to modern day slavery, to provide training and technical assistance on this issue, and to support survivors through community based services.”

https://www.thecatholictelegraph.com/rep-chris-smith-highlights-bipartisan-bill-on-national-human-trafficking-awareness-day/79175

Launch of the National Referral Mechanism Handbook. Joining Efforts to Protect the Rights of Trafficked Persons: A Practical Handbook

 

WHEN : 24 January 2022, 15:00 – 17:00 

WHERE : Zoom webinar (CEST time zone) 

ORGANIZED BY : OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and  Human Rights (ODIHR) 

The event will showcase the key components and new features of the updated NRM Handbook  and highlight the importance of a human rights-based, gender-sensitive, trauma-informed, and  victim- and survivor-centered approach. It will also facilitate the exchange of information among  OSCE delegations, international experts, survivor leaders and civil society on ensuring that survivor  voices are reflected in the implementation of NRMs across the OSCE region. 

Agenda and participants 

The updated NRM Handbook will be presented by Tatiana Kotlyarenko, ODIHR Adviser on Anti Trafficking Issues, Rachel Witkin, Head of Counter-Trafficking, Helen Bamber Foundation,  and Maximilian Scheid, ODIHR Assistant Project Officer. 

Reflections on the NRM Handbook will be presented by leading anti-trafficking experts, including: 

Shandra Woworuntu, Chair of the International Survivors of Trafficking Advisory Council (ISTAC) Valiant Richey, OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in  Human Beings (tbc) 

Kevin Hyland OBE, Member of Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in  Human Beings 

Maia Rusakova, Executive Director, Stellit 

With welcome remarks by Matteo Mecacci, Director, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human  Rights, Representative of the Polish CiO (tbc), and US Congressman Chris Smith, OSCE  Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative on Trafficking in Human Beings. Moderators: Tatiana Kotlyarenko, ODIHR Adviser on Anti-Trafficking Issues; and Andrea Huber,  ODIHR Head of Human Rights Department 

Registration 

Those interested can register here 

US Department of State names Sister Imelda Poole a Hero of the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report

 

Source

In June 2021, the US Department of State honoured Sister Imelda Poole’s contribution to the fight against Human Trafficking by naming her as a Hero in the Trafficking in Persons report in 2021.

On Thursday she was formally presented with the award by Deputy Chief of Mission Demian Smith in a gathering at the US Embassy in Tirana, Albania.

The report states: “Poole works across borders to cultivate support for combating human trafficking and protecting vulnerable communities…”

 

“…Sister Imelda Poole’s leadership in the fight against human trafficking extends far beyond her own work to inspire others. A force of nature, she has prioritized achieving systemic change through grassroots action and effective networking. At the local and regional levels, she is persistent in advancing advocacy, outreach, and rehabilitation services to combat human trafficking.

Poole is a member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Mary Ward) congregation and serves as president of the Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation (RENATE), a network of European women religious from 21 countries combating human trafficking. She has traveled throughout Europe, mentoring and training others and becoming a leading spokesperson for anti-trafficking initiatives in Europe…”

“…Always discerning the needs of the moment, Poole adapts to meet new challenges. When her ministry moved to Albania in 2005, she quickly established the anti-trafficking NGO Mary Ward Loreto (MWL) in Albania. Under Poole’s strategic direction, MWL addresses the root causes of human trafficking, focusing on communities where Roma, migrants, women, and children are most vulnerable. Poole and her staff have worked with more than 3,000 women. They have set up 16 economic empowerment businesses throughout Albania, which aim to decrease women’s risk of exploitation by providing opportunities to participate in entrepreneurial projects in tourism, design, and education, among others. In the past year, the MWL team has fervently worked to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and families in Albania affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to human trafficking.

Because of her passion for the cause to which she has committed her life, Poole works across borders to cultivate support for combating human trafficking and protecting vulnerable communities.”

IRELAND : Sex-slave traffickers who forced migrants into prostitution in Ireland appeal sentences

 

The victims were put through juju rituals and believed if they ran away the curse would cause their death and serious harm to their families

3.1.22

Two women at the centre of Ireland’s first sex trafficking prosecution are set for a legal battle over their prison sentences.

Both Alicia Edosa and Edith Enoghaghase have lodged appeals against their convictions and sentences after being jailed last September.

Meanwhile, the DPP has also started an appeal against the undue leniency of the five-year prison terms imposed on the women.

Judge Francis Comerford at Mullingar Circuit Court imposed a jail term of five years and eight months on Edosa backdated to April 14, 2019 when she was first in custody.

He sentenced Enoghaghase to five years and one month in prison for similar offences, backdated to her conviction on June 10, 2021.

A number of women gave evidence of how they were lured to Ireland with the promise of a job only to find themselves forced into trafficking.

They also had been put through juju rituals and firmly believed if they ran away the power of the curse would cause their death and serious harm to their families at home in Nigeria. …

Trafficking expert Siddharth Kara previously told the Sunday World sex slaves can be worth as much as €150,000 to criminal gangs in western Europe.

“They are brought to Europe with massive debts they have to repay in commercial sex.”

“You can imagine – young, away from home, don’t know the local language, probably vulnerable, oppressed and you’ve got this hold over you. The kind of exploitation that can take place is extraordinarily intense. All the profits accrue up the chain,” he said.

Review: Slavery-Free Communities: Emerging theologies and faith responses to modern slavery

 

However many and however serious the disagreements were that Theresa May aroused as Home Secretary, there can be no doubting the passion with which she engaged with the issues of slavery and trafficking.

In her foreword to this wide-ranging and powerful collection of essays, she declares confronting these issues to be a “moral imperative”; and the Modern Slavery Act witnesses not just to her moral passion, but to the highly effective political energy with which she faced the complexities involved in eliminating slavery and trafficking from British society and from the supply chains of British businesses.

The question remains: can slavery and trafficking be addressed as discrete criminal activities, or do they raise questions about the operation of present-day capitalism in general?
The scene is set in two complementary ways: the opening essay by Kevin Hyland, the UK’s first Anti-Slavery Commissioner, is an authoritative laying bare of the scale and intractability of the problem and is the fruit of his extensive experience with national and international agencies; it is also a hopeful call to faith communities to become involved with the issues.

His laying out of the large picture is then earthed through the personal stories of three survivors, told in raw detail, and revealing the interplay of their vulnerability and the sheer wickedness of those who exploited them. Those stories are adduced again and again in the ten subsequent essays that form the bulk of the book, so that the reader is not allowed to move into statistics and abstraction: Stella, Richard, and Anna, the three survivors, are intensely present throughout, and their stories are different enough in the theological and practical issues for the essayists to examine.

 

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2022/7-january/books-arts/book-reviews/slavery-free-communities-emerging-theologies-and-faith-responses-to-modern-slavery-edited-by-dan-pratt

The Final Report of the Independent Review of the UK’s Modern Slavery Act Published

 

The Final Report of the Independent Review of the UK’s Modern Slavery Act, conducted by the Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss and Maria Miller MP was published on December 31st 2021.  The purpose of the review was to look into the operations and effectiveness of the Act and to suggest potential improvements. 

The particular areas of focus in the report include;

  • The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner (sections 40 – 44)
  • Transparency in supply chains (section 54)
  • Independent Child Trafficking Advocates (section 48)
  • The legal application of the Act, comprising:
  • The definition of exploitation (section 3)
  • Reparation orders (sections 8-10)
  • The statutory defence (section 45)

 

In his forward to the report the Rt Hon Frank Field MP writes;

“The Modern Slavery Act was merely the beginning of a fightback, and implementation is as important as legislation. We have identified, for example, severe deficiencies in how data is collected in this area. Similarly, there needs to be greater awareness of modern slavery and consistent, high quality training among those most likely to encounter its victims. Without these changes, the impact of the Act will be limited. Through the Act, the UK became the first country in the world to introduce pioneering transparency in supply chains requirements, leading to thousands of large businesses taking action to identify and eradicate modern slavery from their supply chains. The Report recommends putting teeth into this part of the Act so that all businesses take seriously their responsibilities to check their supply chains.”

The Review put forward 80 recommendations which can be found in the link below.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-review-of-the-modern-slavery-act-final-report/independent-review-of-the-modern-slavery-act-final-report-accessible-version#fn:7