By Br. Alfonce Kugwa
Human trafficking has become a reality in Africa and world over but more especially in developing countries where people are trafficked in anticipation for greener pastures. The levels of poverty in developing countries coupled with gross inequalities, conflicts and hope for better lifestyles has exacerbated the human trade and new forms of human exploitation at all levels.
While some people are forcibly moved, others are pushed by social-economic and political challenges affecting their countries.
Steffano Volpichelli, a Sociologist from Rome, while addressing a new crop Talitha Kum Zimbabwe members under the Conference of Major Religious Superiors (CMRS) said the unequal distribution of resources has influenced trade in persons.
“In an environment where people are desperate, they can sell their relatives and friends for money. Human trafficking is a business. People are moved by the desire to see and experience what is on the other side of the world while others are forcibly moved or sold in exchange of money,” Volpicelli said.
The purpose of the workshop that was attended by religious men and women from different congregations across the country from 20-22 November at Wadzanai training Center was to find ways of responding to human trafficking through prayer, prevention, protection, policy formulation and enforcement, partnership and prosecution.
Talitha Kum is an International Network of Consecrated Life against trafficking. Talitha Kum is an expression found in the Gospel of Mark (5:14). The word from the Aramaic mean; ‘maiden, I say to you, arise.” These words were addressed by Jesus to the twelve-year-old daughter of Jairus, who lay apparently lifeless. Jesus took her by the hand and she immediately got up and walked.
The expression “Talitha Kum” has the transformative power of compassion and mercy which awakens the deep desire for dignity and life which may be asleep in and injured by the many forms of exploitation.
Volpicelli said the trade in persons is an international as well as local phenomenon where people are moved for purposes of exploitation as sex workers and cheap labour in foreign countries. He said traffickers use different techniques including entering into marriages of convenience, helping process travel documents and smuggling.
“Most of the victims have their particulars confiscated and will have no access of communicating back home. In other cases, the victims are used to dangle a carrot for their friends in home countries purporting that all is well working under pressure of traffickers to attract unsuspecting desperate people,” he said.
Volpicelli noted that combating human trafficking was only possible through the help of a juridical framework. He said the nuns have been and continue to do great work by taking care of victims of trafficking but emphasised the need for prosecution of perpetrators as the best way of eradicating the phenomenon.
“Talitha Kum is spread all over the world and Sisters are doing great work in taking care of victims of trafficking. However, their efforts need to be complemented by stringent measures like prosecution as it is a criminal offense,” he said.
Talitha Kum is meant to promote the formation of new regional networks, foster communication and interchange of information between member networks, support actions of political impact internationally and promote February 8, the World Day of Prayer and reflection against trafficking in persons.
The organization started addressing issues to do with human trafficking in 2004 by designing a training programme for religious sisters and gained its name in 2009 when the organisation became more organised.