2022 Assembly


RENATE Mapping Across Europe


Cover for RENATE MappingJust published, the RENATE Mapping Across Europe Report provides rich insights into the contribution being made by women religious, their congregations and associates in the world-wide efforts to bring an end to Human Trafficking.
Set within the wider context of the most recent US Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report published in July 2015, the RENATE Mapping Across Europe Report illustrates the diverse actions undertaken by RENATE members in 13 countries from East, Central and Western Europe. These actions range from victim protection through shelters, to education-awareness, informing policy, recovery and integration, advocacy as well as campaigning.
In addition to assessing existing systems of victim identification and support within the 13 participating countries, attention is drawn to possible loopholes within such systems, as well as risks of abuse and exploitation.
Attentive to the pain of the victims of human trafficking, the Report proposes conclusions and recommendations which when implemented, have the power to transform the lives of those who are the victims of this crime against humanity.
RENATE Mapping Across Europe
Introduction by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

Put an End to Modern Slavery, Reflection from 18th October Campaign in Poland


Letter of Support from the First Lady of Poland
Letter of Support from the First Lady of Poland

Sunday 18th October was the day of a Campaign against Human Trafficking*, initiated and organised mainly by the Bakhita Network** in conjunction with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, the Alliance of Mercy Community and people from various other communities.
Several weeks before the event, Sr. Joanna Lipowska FMM together with Paulina Spratek and Justyna Chłodny (the Alliance of Mercy Community) decided to put into words what had been stirring in their hearts for so long: a desire to express their solidarity with the victims of human trafficking, too often voiceless and forgotten. Their goal was to make others aware of the problem and encourage people to go out into the streets and become a voice crying out for dignity and respect of those who are enslaved. All those who decided to join in the campaign – individuals as well as communities – in different towns and cities of Poland, received a booklet containing a set of suggestions, ideas, rules and information to give guidance when organising a similar event.
In Warsaw, the FMM sisters found support and great understanding amongst the Alliance of Mercy Community members. The suggestion to join in with the European Day against Human Trafficking was welcomed with enthusiasm and seen as a mission of sharing mercy with the most needy. Some of those who volunteered felt confident to be part of the street mime, others distributed materials and shared information. There were workshops organised to familiarise the volunteers with the problem of human trafficking and to instruct them on offering possible help to the victims. The whole process required a lot of preparation. Often people attended after a tiring day of work or studies: some for rehearsals, others to learn the art of communicating effectively about prevention; how to handle possible reactions to the problem and source information on where to get help for the victims.
Street Pantomime in Warsaw, 18th October 2015
Street Pantomime in Warsaw, 18th October 2015

The long awaited Sunday came eventually. Despite the weather forecast, the day was not bright and sunny. The Old City of Warsaw looked sad and dull as rain drizzled down. Yet nobody seemed discouraged: instead, we saw it as a sign from the Lord – sadness, fear, cold and tears are often the reality of those suffering as contemporary slaves. So even the weather helped us to feel solidarity with the victims, to sense their world through feeling cold and longing for a ray of sunshine.
At 3 p.m., praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, we entrusted our campaign to the Merciful God. Strengthened with His power, we took to the streets of Warsaw.
Read more: Reflection on 18th October 2015 Campaign in Poland

Govt Urged to Do More for Those in Prostitution


President of RENATE and spokeswoman for Act to Prevent Trafficking (APT) jointly criticise Amnesty International’s stance on prostitution.

Sr Imelda Poole, President of RENATE
Sr Imelda Poole, President of RENATE

An international network of nuns working to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation has called on the Government to do more to fund exit programmes for women trapped in prostitution.
At a meeting in Dublin recently, board members of RENATE (Religious in Europe against Trafficking and Exploitation) discussed their response to the refugee crisis and the challenges it presents to children and adults vulnerable to trafficking.
Representatives from countries such as Albania, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, and UK, attended the meeting in All Hallows College.
The board members also discussed new research published in the report ‘A Mapping Across Europe’ which will form the basis of a discussion on future strategy and bring about a blueprint for the way forward for the organisation.
Irish board member of RENATE, Sr Eilís Coe called on the Government to restore funding to Ruhama, an NGO which helps women in prostitution.
“One of the things we need for women in prostitution is an exit strategy, it is no good asking a woman to come out of prostitution if there isn’t something she can be offered instead so as to earn a living.”
Sr Eilís Coe of Act to Prevent Trafficking (APT)
Sr Eilís Coe of Act to Prevent Trafficking (APT)

She warned that some women waiting for years for a decision on their asylum application in direct provision are supplementing the €19 a week they get through prostitution.
“By putting them in those centres, the Government has given them an incentive to go out and supplement their €19 by prostituting themselves in Ireland. They have to be helped. The Government must provide a level of maintenance for women so that they are not forced to do this,” Sr Eilís Coe said.
The president of RENATE, Sr Imelda Poole, who is based in Albania and Sr Coe also hit out at Amnesty International’s controversial decision to support the decriminalisation of sex work and prostitution, as well as for the decriminalisation of the purchase of sex.
Sr Coe said that Act to Prevent Trafficking (APT) in Ireland would be seeking a meeting with Amnesty and she accused the organisation of “contradicting their very foundational belief” in the dignity of every person and their human rights.
“They are not on the side of the victims; they think they are because they are giving rights to prostitution but they are not because they are not criminalising the punter,” Sr Poole criticised.
Members of RENATE also discussed the challenges the refugee crisis presents in relation to trafficking and Sr Imelda Poole called on governments to support DNA identification projects which help trace trafficked children.
She warned that thousands of children are lost through the current massive movement of people. One 14 year old boy and his mother who ended up in Northern Ireland approached a nun there. They had fled Albania as pressure on them increased to radicalise for Syria.
Recalling her recent visit to a refugee camp in the Albanian capital Tirana, she said she had met five Iraqi women there.
“They were not in fact Iraqi, they were actually Iranian but they had fled to Iraq from Iran after the collapse of the Shah. These families have been on the move – suddenly they are targeted in Iraq and so they had to flee from Iraq with their children and their children’s children.”
“Two of their children had been separated from them and were somewhere in an asylum camp in Germany… One of the children of these women wanted to give me information so that we, through RENATE, could try to track down the two children because we work with refugee church service in Germany.”
“The movement of migrants or refugees is impacting all of us. There are thousands of children lost through this movement of people. Tracing is very important,” Sr Poole emphasised.
DNA identification, she explained, had been used in Haiti when traffickers sought to exploit the insecurity and chaos following the earthquake to traffic orphaned children.
Thanks DNA identification, busloads of children who were taken out of the country in the post-earthquake mayhem and were trafficked to Columbia for paid adoption, were all tracked down and reunited with their families in Haiti bar six.
“There now needs to be some kind of global project on DNA. The traffickers are using high tech in their clandestine criminal behaviour, so those working against trafficking have got to get their act more together and use high tech to beat the traffickers,” she stated.
The IBVM Sister said there was a need for closer cooperation through networking and the development of a hub through which all the anti-trafficking networks could access resources.
“It has the highest illegal economy now. It used to be weapons – we’ve usurped drugs. Billions is being gained by the traffickers – it is a very urgent matter.”
By Sarah Mac Donald – 13 November, 2015 at Catholic Ireland.

Real Love Chases Away Fear, Greed & Slavery: Young Leaders Must Pave the Way


Youth Symposium at the Vatican, 7-8 November 2015
Youth Symposium at the Vatican, 7-8 November 2015

Mary Ward Loreto (MWL) attended the Symposium named “Real Love Chases Away Fear, Greed, and Slavery: Young Leaders Must Pave the Way”, held in the Vatican and led by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, from the 7th to the 8th of November, 2015. The MWL Women Assistant Manager, Irena Kraja, attended this symposium as an observer.
The aim of this event was to evaluate best practices in combating modern slavery, to create a global network of young people throughout the world, and to create a handbook on human trafficking and slavery.
Young people are considered as the main actors in combating Modern Slavery, now considered as a global emergency. They have been invited to commit themselves to eradicating these new forms of slavery.
Evaluate best practices to combat modern slavery
More than 70 participants from all over the world shared their experiences on the work achieved in the prevention of all kinds of human trafficking, the rehabilitation of victims who have survived human trafficking, and the sad realities of vulnerability related to modern slavery. Sister Eugenia Bonetti explained that the most vulnerable are young people who do not have opportunities for education or for employment opportunities in the future. This target group can be victims of false promises for a better future. We should work very hard on prevention!
Read more: Report from the Vatican Youth Symposium, 7-8 November 2015
Prepared by Irena Kraja, Mary Ward Loreto

Biennial Meeting of the COATNET Affiliates in France, 9-11 November 2015


Report by Gazmir Memaj, Project Manager, Mary Ward Loreto Youth

Biennial Meeting of the COATNET Affiliates, November 2015
Biennial Meeting of the COATNET Affiliates, November 2015

Main objectives of the meeting:
– Finalise and adopt the strategic plan for 2016-2020.
– Discuss possible ways for evaluating the Network.
– Plan the 2016 Anti-Trafficking Conference in Africa.
– Promote networking and sharing of experiences among the participants, including the use of Baobab.
– Empower affiliates in advocating at national and international level and in existing human rights mechanisms.
– Present the topic ‘’Human trafficking in conflict situations’’ and discuss further action.
This was an international meeting of a global network against Human Trafficking, which took place in Paris from the 9th-11th of November, 2015. Fifty five people were present from thirty three countries worldwide. Members represented the following:

  • Caritas Internationalis
  • National Caritas (Albania, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, India, Kenya, Kongo, Kosovo, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey)
  • USCCB (United States Council of Catholic Bishops)
  • Anglican Alliance
  • Papa Giovanni XXIII Community (Italy and Belgium)
  • CCEM (Comité Contre l’Esclavage Moderne) NGO
  • Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.
  • Medaille Trust, UK
  • IOM (International Organization for Migration)
  • Mary Ward Loreto Foundation

The first two days included inputs from panel and work in groups.
The third day covered the presentation of the group’s work; training on the use of the members’ e-platform called Baobab; the election of the Steering Group and the closing remarks.
Full text available here: Report from the Biennial Meeting of the COATNET Affiliates, France, November 2015

RENATE Voice in The Tablet


RENATE Voice in The Tablet, November 2015
RENATE Voice in The Tablet, November 2015

Imelda Poole, IBVM, President of RENATE & Eilis Coe, RSC, RENATE Board member, speak about Amnesty International’s decision to support the decriminalisation of prostitution, in a brief article published in the 7th November, 2015 edition of The Tablet, under “NEWS from Britain and Ireland”.
Full text available here:
Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

Report from RENATE Training in Ireland


RENATE Members attend Training for Transformation and Board Meeting in Dublin

All Hallows College in Dublin
All Hallows College in Dublin

Members travelled from across 16 European countries to All Hallows College, Dublin, for this training programme and board meeting, from the 26th to the 30th of October, 2015.
Most enjoyed and gained much benefit from the three-day training. It was followed by input from various organisations located in Ireland and working to stop human trafficking:

  1. APT – Act to Prevent Trafficking
  2. RUHAMA – ngo supporting women affected by prostitution and trafficking
  3. ICI – The Immigrant Council of Ireland
  4. MECPATH – an initiative of the Mercy Congregation to Counter Child Prostitution and Trafficking in the Hospitality Sector
  5. CORI – Conference of Religious in Ireland
  6. AHTU – Anti Human Trafficking Unit in the Department of Justice, Irish Parliament.

Imelda Poole, IBVM, President of RENATE thanked both Aneta Grabowska, RENATE Website Manager and Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person for their work.
Board matters such as RENATE Structures, Constitution and Articles of Association were given due consideration, including discussion on the need to ensure East-West balance in terms of representation on the Core Group. Members of the Core Group all agreed to sit for a second term of office (3 years), with the exception of Patricia Mulhall, who steps down at this time from the Board and Core Group.

Sisters Dagmar Plum and Adina Balan updated the Board regarding arrangements for the next RENATE Training which will take place in Budapest, from the 6th-12th March 2016. Sr. Gabriella Legradi is leading the arrangements locally. The Theme for the training is: Advocacy and Campaigning.
Sr. Bohdana Bezakova shared her experiences from recent meetings with sisters in the Ukraine and her attempts to establish solid and supportive links with local communities there. [Full report on the RENATE website here:]. Bohdana spoke of how the local Greek Catholic communities and the Catholic Church in the UKRAINE are emphasising awareness-raising about human trafficking in order to empower and equip young people who are the most vulnerable. In light of the ongoing war in the region, of particular concern to Bohdana was her observation of the great need for trauma therapy.
Patricia Mulhall presented the final draft of the Mapping Exercise across 13 European countries. Everyone congratulated Patricia and all those who contributed to the exercise, which is a unique catalogue of the work that is being done by religious and ngos, including members of RENATE, to prevent human trafficking and exploitation. Practical details regarding the number of copies and dissemination are under way.
On one of the evenings after the training, Iva Kúšiková, SSpS, screened the ‘rough cut’ of the film on the work of RENATE. It is hoped that the film will be released early in 2016.

At St. Brigid's Well
At St. Brigid’s Well

A highlight of the week was the visit to Solas Bhríde Centre and Hermitages in the monastic home of St Brigid, Kildare The Brigidine sisters extended their hospitality to RENATE, and afforded the members the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of St. Brigid by leading a mini-pilgrimage to Brigid’s well where prayers were offered for the victims of human trafficking and exploitation. It was a sacred time together.
Members arrived at Saturday morning with the feeling that the week had passed by all too quickly and included a tremendous amount of work achieved in a short time.
Gratitude was expressed to Mary Mangan, SHJM, for making the arrangements for the week, with the assistance of Eilis Coe, RSC and Patricia Mulhall, CSB and to the members of APT who were at Dublin airport to meet and greet RENATE members.
Compiled by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

Report from the Sixth EU Civil Society Platform Meeting in Brussels


9th EU Anti-Trafficking Day Conference, 20 October 2015


EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Persons, 21 October 2015

9th EU Anti-Trafficking Day Conference, 20 October 2015

High Level Conference Marking the 9thEU Anti-Trafficking Day, 18 October

Organised by the European Commission in collaboration with the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of European Union, the conference took place in Brussels on the 20th of October, 2015. The Mary Ward Loreto Foundation was invited to attend as an active participant of the EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings (THB).
The theme, “Time for concrete actions: Implementing the Legal and Policy Framework on Trafficking in Human beings” and  aim of the conference was to develop a policy for the implementation of the EU legal framework and policies addressing trafficking in Human Beings. The Conference marks the EU Anti-Trafficking Day, instituted on 18th of October, 2007 with a view to highlighting the EU common commitment to eradicating trafficking in human persons.
Two important components of the Conference were:
– Introductory Remarks by the Chair, Opening Statements & Keynote Address
– High Level Panel, Interactive Discussion.
Introductory Remarks by the Chair, Opening Statements and Keynote Address
Ms. Myria Vassilidou, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, European Commission,   introduced1 the meeting and welcomed the 200+ participants, the representatives of the EU Parliament, the EU Commissioners, Ministers, Europol, Eurojust and Civil Society. She explained that the main priorities common to the European Union and the European Commission are: “Following the money and reducing demand for trafficking in Human Beings in all forms of exploitation”.
These important issues will be the subject of the two interactive discussions of the honourable panellists listed in the Appendix.  After the introduction Ms. Vassilidou concluded by saying that: “States are strong, and they can protect and defend themselves, but individuals, especially those exploited, are not as strong and it is our duty to protect them.”
(…) Full text available at the end of this post.

The EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings

This event was organized on the 21st of October, 2015, comprising three parallel workshops. The NGO representatives were divided into three groups to discuss a special topic, after which they presented and shared their thoughts on the issue to the collective audience.
Workshop 1. Children as high risk group of trafficking
The members of this group focused mainly on unaccompanied children as well as on the child refugee crisis. The group shared their concerns for the fake ‘adoption’ of children and for children involved in forced labour and domestic servitude. Another concern highlighted by this group was the recruitment of children in armed conflicts and child trafficking for exploitation in forced criminal activities.
Worksop 2. Emerging Concerns
The second group focused on the current Syrian refugee crisis, which is leading to an increased risk of people being exploited and trafficked. They recommended a greater awareness about this issue and called on more people to become involved in preventing exploitation at a national level, when the refugees are being assisted in transitory or residential camps.
Also another emerging concern raised by this group was the sham of forced marriages which leads to different forms of exploitation, especially in domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.
Workshop 3. Prevention of trafficking in Human Beings
The third group focused on demand, reduction and prevention initiatives. The MWL Youth Manager was a member of this group and made a presentation at the group session.
They [who?] The group commenced by reflecting upon Article 18.48 of the EU Directive: “Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims.” This article criminalises the use of services by each citizen who knows that the person who offers the services is a victim of trafficking. In this context ‘’following the buyers’’ was thought as a prevention initiative which would lead to identifying the victims. While the conviction of buyers can reduce demand, it is very difficult to prove that the buyer is aware that he/she is purchasing services from a victim of trafficking. It was felt that the key to success is to work locally in order to change the mentality of our governments and our judiciary and then start lobbying at a European level.
Another suggested action regarding prevention was to ensure that there is a legal requirement for businesses to state publicly their policy against Trafficking in Human Beings and show that their supply chain is free from exploitation.
At the end of the group session, it was decided to discuss the topics relating to each form of exploitation and to identify concrete ideas to be implemented to prevent trafficking. The group was subdivided into smaller groups who will continue to work on it by means of the e-Platform.
Outcomes of the Event   
It was both a good opportunity and experience to attend these very important meetings. It has been a meaningful exchange on best practices. It was so positive to participate and contribute to meetings where the highest institutions of the EU commit to eradicating trafficking in human beings.
Ten contacts were established and more than thirty MWL leaflets were distributed in the Market Place.

Prepared by Gazmir Memaj, Project Manager, Mary Ward Loreto Youth

Full text available here: Report from the Sixth Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform Against Trafficking in Human Beings, October 2015

The 3rd World Conference of Women’s Shelters, 3rd-6th November, 2015


Conference Centre World Forum, The Hague, The Netherlands
Advocates for women’s shelters, health care workers, women social workers and NGOs are amongst the participants from more than 95 countries currently attending the World Forum Conference. RENATE member Adina Balan, CJ will present on the RENATE Network at the Conference.
The Conference is an initiative arising from the Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS), the Dutch Foundation of Women’s Shelters and its partners. The aim is with a view to connecting and acting together in order to end violence against women.
The following themes are being addressed each day:

  • The economic independence of women survivors
  • Sustainable financing and advocacy
  • Transboundary Violence against women: International exchange and cooperation
  • Continents: What is going on? Strengthening Global and regional networks
  • Innovative approaches to eliminating violence against women and supporting survivors
  • “Time to Act!”

The week has been action-packed so far, with pre-conferences by the Asian network and WAVE (European Network), side-workshops, plenary sessions, roundtables, creative performances, poster sessions as well as lounge greetings which assist the sharing of information and networking.
Her Majesty, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark presented keynote addresses, followed by key speakers from both national and international governmental departments.
Throughout the week, delegates hear presentations from the UN, WHO, UAF and the Council of Europe, and most importantly, the voices of survivors who share their stories.
Global Companies such as Facebook, Google, Rabobank are playing an active role in the Conference. Present as keynote speakers and panellists are:  the Head of Global Safety at Facebook, Google representative on Public Policy Strategy and the Director of Human Resources at Rabobank.
Ashley Judd, actress, activist and author, will share her personal studies and discuss how they reflect the themes of the conference on the closing day. Judd has been engaging in global feminist social justice work since 2002, and has visited slums, brothels and schools in Madagascar, Democratic Republic of Congo, Thailand, Cambodia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Kenya, Nicaragua, Rwanda and South Africa to meet with survivors.
“Violence against girls and women has grave consequences for the survivor. There is also a cascade effect into her neighbourhood, her town, and her country,” Judd says. “If we can provide safe places to care for and support survivors of gender-based violence, we offer them a crucial portal to dignity, while creating healthier outcomes for entire populations.”
You can follow the Conference on YouTube:
Full Conference information is available at
Adapted and prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person