Chennai (India) On 12 December 2020, an online seminar was held, organized by the Indian Province of St. Thomas the Apostle (INM), aimed at the nine FMA Institutions of Higher Studies (ISS-FMA) in Asia. The theme, “Trafficking in human beings: a violation of Human Rights” was chosen to celebrate World Human Rights Day and to focus on a phenomenon that affects the most vulnerable groups around the world and in the places where the ISS carry out their work. About 800, between students and teachers from the various institutions, were the connected participants.
Sister Regina Mary Rathinaswamy, member of the ISS-FMA Asia Commission, opened the seminar by presenting the identity and mission of the ISS-FMA Asia Network of Institutions of Higher Studies. In her talk, she took up some points from the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, echoing Pope Francis’s invitation to promote a more fraternal society that takes care of our common home.
The Provincial of the INM Province, Sr. Mary Nirmala Lazar, stressed in the opening greeting that respect for the freedom and dignity of every person is the prerequisite for the economic and social development of any country.
The first part of the seminar was held by Sr. Mary Josephine Isabella, FMA of the INM Province, who spoke about the link between human rights and trafficking in human beings. In her report, she explored the causes of trafficking, including lack of access to education, poverty, early marriage, and child labor. Unemployed youth, migrants, and refugees, especially girl children, young girls, and women are the people most involved in trafficking. Networking between different organizations and with legislative bodies, combined with programs for the recovery of victims, training for work, awareness raising, and empowerment of the most vulnerable people are ways of preventing and combating this phenomenon.
Sister Sarah Garcia, FMA, collaborator of the Youth Ministry Sector of the Human Rights Office (IIMA), animated the second part of the seminar, focusing on the theme “Empowering and Empowered Youth: A Global Agenda”. From her talk emerged the solution to the problems linked to trafficking, which lies in the promotion and protection of rights through the creation of a universal culture of human rights: each one is called to recognize the face of God in every person and to feel responsible for promoting human rights.
The monthly seminars of the ISS-FMA Institutions of Higher Studies in Asia constitute a networking initiative to build sharing and mutual enrichment among the various Institutions. Each meeting is aimed at diversified groups – Students, Teachers, Students and Teachers together – and provides for an in-depth study of a topic. The various institutions alternate in the organization and animation of online seminars.