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Religious Women Link up to Fight Human Trafficking

 

TAGAYTAY CITY, PHILIPPINES by N.J. Viehland

A formidable multi-billion-dollar human-trafficking industry has driven Catholic religious women to collaborate among themselves and with other sectors of society to stop what Pope Francis has called “the most extensive form of slavery of the 21st century.”
Since International Union of Superiors General (UISG) established Talitha Kum (“Little girl, arise”) in 2009*, the anti-trafficking network of women religious, has developed a program of activities banking on partnerships established by the UISG central office in Rome as well as a network of local anti-trafficking teams.
Talitha Kum has also linked up with government, professional, faith-based and other organizations, said Sr. Estrella Castalone, its coordinator, at a recent Asia-Oceania conference of women religious in Tagaytay City, south of Manila.
In her presentation ahead of Thursday’s International Day against Trafficking, Castalone said, “My dearest sisters … We know that this slavery has a feminine face. It behooves us, women religious, to join hands and put a stop to it. Talitha Kum takes this commitment and we enjoin you to support us, individually or as a congregation.”
For Castalone of the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, partnership is a “significant component” of Talitha Kum’s approach. Without this, it is impossible to combat the intricate web of syndicated operations she illustrated in her slideshow.
As religious, “we can only move and be involved within the parameters of our consecrated life,” Castalone pointed out to the more than 65 nuns and members of partner groups who joined the Asia-Oceania Meeting of Religious (AMOR XVI) in November.
Besides, victims of human trafficking often undergo a harrowing experience that requires a “long and difficult process of healing and recovery … needing interdisciplinary case management approach,” she said.
Partnering with government and private bodies also serves the need for job placement and alternative livelihood options for victims.
“We realize that as religious, we cannot be involved so much in the prosecution process,” Castalone said.
She acknowledged the help with funding provided by Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters and the continuous training and support from International Organization for Migration.
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