Vatican Calls Prostitution a Form of Slavery

Document Addresses Plight of "Women of the Street"

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 20, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers reiterated the Church's condemnation of sexual exploitation and prostitution as a form of modern slavery.



On Tuesday, during the presentation of its "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road," the council drew attention to the second part of the document, called the "Pastoral Care for the Liberation of Women on the Street."

Cardinal Renato Martino and Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, the president and secretary of the pontifical council, spoke of the women who "live in the street and are of the street," involved in prostitution and trafficking.

Far from just a women's issue, prostitution also "drags men and children into its network," underlined Archbishop Marchetto, condemning the "growing demand of sex 'consumers.'"

Echoing the concerns of Benedict XVI, the document says: "Trafficking in human beings, especially women, flourishes where opportunities to improve their standard of living or even to survive are limited."

"It becomes easy for the trafficker to offer his own 'service' to the victims, who often do not even vaguely suspect what awaits them. In some cases there are women and girls who are destined to be exploited almost like slaves in their work, and not infrequently in the sex industry," explains the document in the Pontiff's words.

"Knowing the factors that lead and attract women to prostitution, the strategies used by intermediaries and exploiters to subdue them to their domination" is important for an effective pastoral response to this plague, explained Archbishop Marchetto.

It is also important to know "the paths of movement from the countries of origin to those of destination and the institutional resources available to deal with this problem," he continued.

Pastoral response

The Vatican official praised the international community and many nongovernmental organizations for their "increasingly energetic" efforts to "protect those who are victims of human trafficking."

For its part, noted Archbishop Marchetto, "the Church has the pastoral responsibility to defend and promote the human dignity of persons who are exploited by prostitution, and to help them find their freedom by offering economic, educational and formational assistance."

In order to respond to these pastoral needs, he added, "the Church must prophetically condemn the injustices and violence" perpetrated against women of the street, and fight this phenomenon.

In order to achieve this, concluded Archbishop Marchetto, a "renewed solidarity in Christian communities and specific programs of formation for pastoral care workers" are needed, as well as collaborating "with social communication outlets to ensure awareness about this serious problem."