Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 8, 2010
Canada's bishops denounce human trafficking
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - On the eve of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, Canada's Catholic bishops have called for an end to human trafficking.
Major sporting events often see "systems put in place to satisfy the demand for paid sex," the bishops' commission for justice and peace said in a Jan. 26 pastoral letter.
"As pastors of the Catholic Church in Canada, we denounce human trafficking in all its forms, whether it is intended for forced labour (domestic, farm or factory work) or for sexual exploitation (whether it be prostitution, pornography, forced marriages, strip clubs, or other)."
The bishops urged faithful Catholics to become aware of human trafficking and that it is taking place in Canada. "We need to recognize it, talk about it with others, and take action in our communities to stop it."
The demand for sexual services fuels human trafficking, the bishops said. "Without customers who ask for sexual services, there would be no prostitution, and thus no trafficking."
The scale of human trafficking is "alarming," they wrote, citing estimates from the International Labour Organization (ILO) that estimates 2.4 million victims of trafficking, including 1.3 million caught up in sexual exploitation.
"This area of organized crime brings in billions of dollars for pimps and for owners of strip clubs, massage parlours, and legal and illegal brothels," the bishops wrote.
"This figure does not include taxes paid to governments that often turn a blind eye to this activity."
The bishops put human trafficking in the context of economic globalization and the increasing gap between rich and poor countries. "Impoverished populations of the South and the East remain vulnerable to trafficking," they said.
"When hunger threatens their family's lives, people are more likely to believe the promises of unscrupulous smugglers or to succumb to the attraction of earning money through sexual tourism," the bishops said.
Closer to home, the bishops highlighted the plight of aboriginal women and girls who "disappear from their villages and are never seen again."
They wrote that young immigrants to Canada often get caught up in the "living hell" of work in street prostitution, massage parlours or escort services.
The bishops urge Catholics to support organizations that work with victims of human trafficking and to urge the government to create programs to help them.
The Canadian Religious Conference (CRC) has made the fight against human trafficking one of its priorities. The Catholic Women's League has also been lobbying the government to provide better services for people wishing to leave prostitution.
The bishops called for help to enable women to break free of prostitution, such as health care, psychological counselling, and detoxification programs.
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