Consultation on Human Trafficking

2015. november 05., csütörtök

About twenty delegates and experts from European churches and social organizations met from October 22nd to October 24th in Hanover to discuss the difficult topic of human trafficking. The invitation of this consultation came from the European Area of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) and the Reformierter Bund in Germany. On behalf of the Reformed Church in Hungary, Rev. Aaron Stevens attended the consultation, who is the minister at St Columba's Church of Scotland in Budapest, English-speaking congregation of RCH.

Last year the WCRC launched a campaign on Human Trafficking; in this consultation, the situation in Europe was further reviewed. This was done using reports from delegates from the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovakia, Scotland, Hungary, Italy and Spain. There were also delegates from the Evangelisch Reformierte Kirche in Germany, the Lippe Church, from the Vereinigte Evangelische Mission (UEM) and the Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME).

Human trafficking is the third largest sector of organized crime, right after arms and drugs trafficking. It takes place everywhere and is a complex, constantly changing system, in which, by the cooperation of different actors, women, men and children are deprived of their rights, tortured and murdered, for example as child soldiers or slaves for work or sex.

Poverty, lack of prospects and risks related to war and violence are causally at the beginning of the ordeal of people who respond to seemingly tempting job offers, but are then kidnapped or sold. Exploitation and imprisonment, extortion and debt bondage, abuse and rape are part of the ordeal that follows. Very few victims manage to escape. Even if they succeed with the help of a human rights organizations, the question is asked: What alternative is there for the victims?

What can the churches do? This question was intensively discussed. It quickly became clear that it initially becomes simply about perceiving facts: People are turned into a commodity and traded as such, anywhere. Nevertheless, the difficult and unpleasant topic is often ignored, even by the churches. But the churches have the chance to be active where there often is no other adequate social infrastructure left.

Educating the public and supporting victims are genuinely ecclesial tasks, and in youth work in a special way: educating young people about their rights, providing them with education and helping them to convey confidence. Churches must take their hopes and ideas about life seriously. These together are important steps to empower young people and to protect them from possible hazards.

Finally, the situation shows how necessary it is to rethink the theological thinking in the different countries with their own theological traditions and influences: do the victims dare to seek support in the Church or do they meet more mistrust and rejection there? Which understanding of "dignity" and "value" determine everyday ecclesiastical speech and action? How can the church help the victims to overcome their trauma and regain a sense of their own inviolable dignity? How is reconciliation lived in view of destroyed personal stories?

Among the recommendations at the end of the consultation was also the proposal for collaboration between churches in the countries where labour or sex slaves come and those from where people are brought for forced labour.


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