Sister Louis Madore, of the Daughters of Wisdom, said this Monday at an international congress organized by the religious superiors and the World Organization of Migrations.
Religious from 20 countries and 31 congregations are participating in the weeklong event, which aims to educate women religious in the fight against trafficking, reinforce existing national and regional networks, and create the foundations for an international network.
In her introductory address, Sister Madore noted, "The traffic of persons is not an issue that is self-contained. It is closely connected to global issues stemming from unjust and exploitative political and economic relations between countries with the increasing impoverishment of entire populations."
"This has grave consequences for women and we see the growing feminization of poverty and migration. Such situations, along with the increase of the commercialization of sex and social and cultural practices profoundly rooted in the discrimination of women and girls, make them easy prey of traffickers," she added.
"The traffic of persons is a very complex phenomenon," stressed the religious. "To work in this field is not an option but a necessity if we want to be, strategically, on the side of the most defenseless."
According to studies presented during the first day of the congress, there are between 600,000 and 820,000 victims of transnational trafficking per year.
Nearly 70% of those are women, many of whom are minors.
The congress is the fifth of its kind in Rome. To date over 4,000 religious have participated.
The project is supported by the United States Embassy to the Holy See and financed by the Office for Refugees and Migrants of the U.S. government.