Rome (Italy). On February 8th, 2018 the fourth World Day of Prayer and Reflection against Human Trafficking is celebrated and relates to the theme “Migration without Trafficking. Yes, to freedom! No to trafficking!”

We bring the testimony of Sr. Gabriella Bottani, Coordinator of the Site Talitha Kum, the international website of Consecrated Life against the trafficking of people.

“Please, do not take me away from here. I do not want to go. I do not want to return home!”

These words were addressed by a teenager who was 13 years old to the one responsible for the anti-trafficking nucleus of Fortaleza in Brazil. The context was a raid in a massage center, following a complaint. When the police broke in, the young girl, sexually exploited and held in a private prison situation, was offering sexual services to a military police officer. The girl was sexually exploited by the owner of the massage house because of the debt she had contracted to work there.

This was in 2009. I was very shocked because everything seemed normal. Normal for the girl to be exploited, because this guaranteed a higher standard of consumption; for this she implored not to be freed. Normal for the owner of the massage house take advantage of the girls, because she guaranteed better living conditions than those they had at home, where they were still victims of abuse and exploitation in conditions of misery. The exploiter guaranteed food, clothes, and perfume. Normal for the policeman abusing his authority to receive compensation and illegal favors from minors. Everything was so normal, that precisely those who defended the dignity of so many girls and teenagers exploited in the sex market seemed to be the problem!

There are countless stories in the world of girls, women, men, and children who, once redeemed from exploitation, fall into the traps of traffickers; it happens due to the lack of a real alternative and to internal wounds so deep that it makes their social reintegration difficult.

For this reason, the commitment against trafficking must address the causes and dissolve the heavy chains hidden inside people, in all people, even in us: they are the chains that disfigure social and interpersonal relationships. Over the years, they have permitted and justified the “normalization” of misery, social inequality, exploitation, the abuse of power of men over women, of the rich over the poor, of those who are adults towards minors. Inequalities in the context of the neoliberal market have reduced people to bodies to be used and exploited for profit.

Prayer and reflection are precious so as not to be overwhelmed by the vortex of situations and not passively conform to readings and interpretations of trafficking that others propose.

In the twelfth century, the mystic Hildegard of Bingen said: “We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. A world like this has no hope “.

Prayer and reflection combine contemplation and experience, gathering the cry of the victims and the hope of those who have resumed life, melting the chains we have inside.

The prophetic dimension of our actions is founded on this.

Talitha Kum: networks women and men in over 70 Countries of the world, promoting collaboration and information exchange among them. Talitha Kum was born in 2009 from the shared desire to coordinate and reinforce the activities against trafficking promoted by consecrated persons on the five continents. Two FMAs were also promoters and are already in Heaven: Sr. Bernadette Sangma (INS) and Sr. Estrella Costalone (FIL).

Talitha Kum is a network of diversely organized networks that promote initiatives against the trafficking of people, respecting the different contexts and cultures. It is a project of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) in collaboration with the Superiors General Union (USG).


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