Rome (Italy). On 8 February 2022, on the liturgical memorial of Saint Josephine Bakhita, a nun from Sudan who as a child was a victim of trafficking and, canonized in 2000, became a universal symbol of the commitment against slavery, the Eighth World Day of Prayer and Reflection against human trafficking is celebrated.
“The power of care. Women, economy and human trafficking” is the theme at the center of the Day, wanted by Pope Francis who, in 2015, encouraged the International Unions of Superiors General (UISG and USG) to promote it.
The theme is in continuity with the previous year, Economy without human trafficking, in which reflection on the connection between the economy and human trafficking began. The 2022 edition proposes to focus on women, most affected by trafficking, who at the same time play a fundamental role in the process of transforming the exploitation economy into an economy of care.
According to the United Nations Strategic Plan 2022–2025 (UN-Women), the inequalities recorded in the most important areas of social life continue to be significant: health, work, education, politics. The participation rate between 25–54-year-olds in the workforce is 90% for men and just under two thirds for women. 30% of young women do not study, do not work, do not attend formation courses.
The conditions of inequality and injustice experienced by women in society become a condition of vulnerability that exposes them to the risk of violence, trafficking, and exploitation. In fact, women and girls represent 72% of the victims of trafficking. Furthermore, the pandemic has increased and favored the opportunities and socio-economic mechanisms underlying this plague, further penalizing them:
“The pandemic has increased the business of trafficking, the conditions of vulnerability for the people most at risk and the inequalities between men and women. We women, therefore, must take on a leading role to promote a new economic system, based on the strength of care. With this Day, we will reflect together to investigate the causes of trafficking and identify possible paths of liberation. The violence caused by exploitation can be transformed with gestures of care and solidarity. We are all called to safeguard the dignity of every person”, said Sister Gabriella Bottani, Combonian, coordinator of the Day and of Talitha Kum, the worldwide network of consecrated life committed to combating trafficking.
The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians has been part of the Talitha Kum Network since its birth in 2009, and contributes to it by participating in the International Commission that coordinates regional networks, through the exchange of information and the deepening of reflections. The educational-pastoral commitment of the FMA Institute is accomplished through care, with presences in the Educating Communities of all continents that carry out prevention and the reception of children, young people, and women victims of trafficking, and socio-economic action, through support and promotion initiatives in various contexts.
In view of the Day, there are several prayer vigils and initiatives to reflect and raise awareness of what, as Pope Francis underlined at the Angelus of 6 February 2022, is a “deep wound” affecting the entire human community and in front of which he expressed his pain, exhorting “those who have the responsibility to act decisively, to prevent both exploitation and humiliating practices that particularly afflict women and girls.”
At the end of the Angelus, Pope Francis also blessed the statue of Saint Josephine Bakhita, “Let the oppressed go free”, created by the artist Timothy Schmaltz and dedicated to the victims of trafficking and to all women, particularly to consecrated women committed to their liberation.
On 8 February from 9:00 to 17:00 (CET), the online marathon will take place of prayer and reflection “The power of care. Women, the economy, and human trafficking”. Following the different time zones, the marathon will start in Oceania, Asia, and the Middle East, then pass through Africa, Europe, South America, and end with North America. It will be streamed live in five languages (French, English, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish) on the Day’s website www.preghieracontrotratta.org
On the site you can find the program of the prayer marathon, the prayer of Pope Francis, the Prayer Vigil 2022, the PDFs with in-depth information on the topic, and some video testimonials.
The organizers also invite, on February 8 between 13:30 and 14:30 CET, to dedicate a tweet to the Day using the official hashtag of the event #PrayAgainstTrafficking.