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2022 Assembly

 

Solwody Germany: Reform of the GEAS – Asylum is becoming unattainable for many victims of human trafficking.

 

Dear friends, dear interested parties,

Last year, the Munich counseling center received the Bavarian Minister of State for family, work and social affairs, Ulrike Scharf for a joint conversation about the work of Specialist advice centers and protective facilities in Bavaria. The protection and rights of particularly vulnerable groups of women and their children were also discussed. This year,  the Minister along with the clients of the Munich advice center offered another meeting together.

This second visit came last March. Each of the clients present reported to the Minister about their personal experiences on the way to Germany, the sexual violence that they had to experience. Two women from Sierra Leone and Nigeria reported, for example, on how a better life was promised to them in Thailand or Libya. On their arrival however, they were forced into prostitution in order to settle their alleged “debts” for the flight. One of the two women has been in a house for three years, held captive to have sex with men there. Still, both made it, after they were able to flee Italy. However, when they got there, because of the traumatization and through their experience of violence, they were once again forced into prostitution by human traffickers.

These reports are not isolated cases. Plenty of women who have been trafficked or who have experienced forced prostitution often come from Bulgaria, Romania, Nigeria or others West African States. People in need of protection, like our clients are entitled to care and special procedural guarantees. But the protection rate is extremely low for many countries. For example, the rate for people from Nigeria last year was only 11.3%.

In view of such low chances of protection in Germany, the assertion of disorders resulting from trauma are enormously important for the asylum procedure. But a statement about the experience to the authorities alone is not enough. The affected must prove both their experiences of violence and the resulting psychological and physical consequences. It is usually an impossible undertaking for the women to prove what they have experienced and to name the perpetrators. It is just as problematic to provide proof of the aforementioned health impairments, because therapy places are experiencing increased demand due to the pandemic and numerous refugees from Ukraine.

In an interview with Minister of State Ulrike Scharf, the women emphasized the great psychological impact and burden of this procedure. It is difficult to describe the experience in detail, and the fear of possibly having to go through the trauma again and so-called re-traumatization is great. The urgent plea of ​​women to the Minister was therefore clear: There is an urgent need for changes in the asylum procedure and above all in dealing with those affected by German authorities.

But just a few months after meeting the Bavarian Minister of State will now reform the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) in the paths guided. Frighteningly, this reform by no means lead to an improved situation for those affected by human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Through theplanned fast-track procedures at the EU’s external borders, it makes it almost impossible for women from Nigeria for example, who experienced human trafficking and forced prostitution, to get asylum in Europe.

The reform of the CEAS increases the chance of protection in Europe for victims of human trafficking from Nigeria (protection rate 2022: 11.3%) and from many other countries even lower than the previous legal position granted to them. SOLWODI therefore calls again on the federal government to respect the right to protection and to grant all asylum seekers a fair trial.

You can support our demand by signing our petition “No Fast Track Proceedings – Support the EU external borders” at https://t1p.de/solwodi-Petition.

30th July – World Day Against Trafficking In Persons

 

The 30th July 2023 marks World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, with this years theme focused on reaching every victim of trafficking, leaving no one behind.

According to the UN, “the campaign for World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2023 aims to raise awareness of disturbing developments and trends identified by the latest UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons and calls on governments, law enforcement, public services, and civil society to assess and enhance their efforts to strengthen prevention, identify and support victims, and end impunity.

To #EndHumanTrafficking, we cannot allow this crime to be met with increasing indifference and impunity. We must strengthen resilience against exploitation and the underlying socio-economic and cultural issues that are conducive to trafficking. We must sensitize everyone to the topic of human trafficking and thus push attention towards those who can make a difference in terms of changing policy and national resource management to strengthen prevention measures, improve identification of victims, increase support of survivors and end impunity”.

For more information, please visit: https://www.un.org/en/observances/end-human-trafficking-day


You can also follow our RENATE online self-directed prayer pilgrimage, marking the lead up to July 30th across our Facebook and social media accounts.

https://www.facebook.com/renateurope/

https://www.instagram.com/renate_europe/

Awareness Raising Event with SSpS Sisters in Steyl, Netherlands, 8th July 2023.

 

News from RENATE Core Group Member, Ivonne Van de Kar

On Saturday 8th July 2023, RENATE Core Group member, Ivonne van de Kar, was invited by the Dutch province of the SSpS sisters, to their Motherhouse in the village of Steyl, to speak on the issue of Human Trafficking. For the thousands of Sisters and SVD Fathers, this Motherhouse, in the south of the Netherlands near the German border, is viewed as the ‘Centre of the World’ of their congregation.

During the event, Ms. Van de Kar spoke about the various complexities surrounding anti-human trafficking, including Dutch law and the existing laws in other countries. She provided background information to the SSps Sisters on what Human Trafficking is, how it can occur, and the various forms that exist. Lastly, Ms. Van de Kar shared about Saint Josephine Bakita, the Patron Saint of Victims of Trafficking, and informed the congregation on how they and the church can assist in anti-human trafficking efforts.

On a scorching hot summers day, this awareness raising event was hugely successful and sparked many meaningful and thought-provoking conversations.

OSCE relaunches BESAFE campaign as World Day Against Trafficking approaches

 

The OSCE have made the decision to re-launch an anti-trafficking safety campaign, begun last year in response to the large number of refugees created by the war in Ukraine, which they have again introduced with the following message:

Dear colleagues and friends, 

Sunday is World Day against Trafficking, and our Office will commemorate it by relaunching our BeSafe campaign, which we created last year with Thomson Reuters. The Campaign helps keep Ukrainian refugees safe from human trafficking by providing basic information on how to recognize traffickers’ tricks, how to avoid them, and how to get help if needed. 

We know from previous humanitarian crises that it takes two years to start identifying large numbers of victims of exploitation, so we believe now it’s the time to keep raising awareness. 

We produced a video we’ll be pushing out on our social media (on Twitter and LinkedIn) on Sunday morning, and we would like to encourage you all to help us spread the word by resharing that further. 

Thank you all for your friendship and support

Office of the OSCE Special Representative for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings

The Freedom Fund: SLAVERY RESEARCH BULLETIN, 17 JULY 2023

 

JULY 17, 2023 / BULLETIN: THE FREEDOM FUND / @FREEDOM_FUND

Welcome to the Freedom Fund’s monthly bulletin designed to bring you new and compelling research from the global anti-slavery movement.

2023 Trafficking in Persons Report by the U.S. Department of State

The 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report emphasises the importance of partnering with survivors and survivor-led organisations to advance anti-trafficking efforts and minimise harm. Concerns were also raised about unreliable social audits of companies, misconceptions surrounding the trafficking of boys, and trafficking for forced criminal activities in cyber scam operations. The annual assessment of government responses resulted in the upgrading of Ethiopia, Hong Kong and Indonesia to Tier 2, while Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam were promoted to the Tier 2 Watch List. Conversely, Namibia and Slovenia were downgraded to Tier 2, and Algeria, Chad, and Djibouti were relegated to Tier 3.

Exploitation of Kenyan child in domestic work

The African Institute for Children Studies and The Freedom Fund examine the conditions faced by child domestic workers (CDWs) in Kenya. Based on surveys and discussions with over 500 CDWs, employers and child protection experts, the study found that children as young as seven years old were in domestic work. Many of the CDWs reported exploitative conditions, including physical and emotional abuse disguised as “discipline” and being unable to leave their workplace to seek healthcare when ill or injured (29 percent). It was also common for parents to draw their children’s salary in advance from the employer, locking the child into bonded labour.

Poor reporting of ethical practices in violence research

A systematic review led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assesses the ethical protocols among 75 peer-reviewed studies that collected primary data on violence against women and children. The researchers used a 14-item ‘best practice’ checklist and, on average, the studies only adhered to 31 percent of the items. Studies most frequently described the ethical clearance and informed consent process, but were least transparent about referrals for minors in adverse events and soliciting participant feedback. The authors call for the development of standardised ethical procedures for study on violence against women and children.

Modern slavery disclosure by UK companies

Research led by the University of Westminster investigates the correlation between companies’ level of modern slavery disclosure (MSD) and board gender diversity. Based on content analysis of MSD statements from 100 UK-listed companies, the analysis finds a positive and statistically significant link – companies with more females on the board are more transparent about their actions to fight modern slavery. A critical mass of at least four female directors is necessary before any positive impact on MSD can be observed. Despite a gradual improvement in MSD, companies tend to focus more on symbolic actions like policy-setting rather than substantial practices such as due diligence.

“Change” from the perspectives of women workers

The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) reintroduces its e-magazine, titled “Our Work Our Lives”. This e-magazine emerged from discussions among GAATW members on the organisation of women workers and their perceptions of “change” in their lives. This latest issue showcases women who serve as community organisers and union leaders in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Nepal, Sierra Leone, and Sri Lanka, and their endeavours to bring about changes in the workplace.

For more news, please visit The Freedom Fund website

RENATE Online Prayer Pilgrimage, Marking 30th July, World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

 

Invitation from House of Prayer Member, Sr. Gabriella Mezinger, Hungary.

In preparation for the World Day Against Trafficking in Human Persons, 30th July, united in Christ and in our vision of a world free of slavery, we invite you to join our RENATE online retreat from 22nd to 30th July 2023.
Pondering in our hearts God’s life-giving words and the prophetic messages of Pope Francis, we express our deepest hope and desire to be part of a change.  You can also follow us on the RENATE Facebook page to receive all updates. We invite you to encourage those you know to join us. Let’s become the voice of the voiceless!

Join the Prayer Pilgrimage

Caritas Ukraine Serves the Most Vulnerable Survivors of Human Trafficking

 

News from RENATE Member Natalia Holynska, CARITAS Ukraine.

“I fled Bakhmut, appeared in Kyiv city, no shelter, no resources for surviving, after suffering and violence, without husband, with three small children! I thought I would not survive! I came to Caritas to ask for food and warm clothes for children. But I’ve received not only basic things; they’ve helped me with accommodation and work. I didn’t know what human trafficking is. I thought that it might be my fault! I asked myself why I had to suffer so much and be sexually exploited. I had no idea before war that for my survival and for my children’s sake I would give sex to invaders!”

Alona, 34 y.o, victim of sexual exploitation in Ukraine

Since the beginning of full-scale war in Ukraine the violation of human rights of civilians rapidly increased. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine totally changed human rights situation: millions of our citizens became refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people; thousands of civilians were killed or injured captured, murdered, tortured; they lost everything: their houses, business, properties and loved ones. By IOM statistics over 32 million people are estimated to be affected by the full-scale war. According to the Ukrainian government more than 19 thousand children were forcibly deported from Ukraine to Russia, 484 children were killed, 992 children were wounded. But these are only verified numbers. The real figures may be much higher.

            The situation with trafficking in the country became more difficult, the cases of sexual violation and sexual exploitation are more severe and cruel. We notice increasing vulnerability of population to recruitment and trafficking, especially among refugees and IDPs, more cases of sexual exploitation or sex for survival, involving into war conflict and criminal activities, domestic servitude, different forms of slavery. Though IOM, Caritas Ukraine and other CSO in Ukraine screen a lot of cases of human trafficking, by official statistics of Ministry of Social Policy in 2022 there were only 47 persons identified as the survivors in trafficking (for comparison in 2021 – 64, in 2020 – 134). Possibly because of war realities many cases are not classified as crimes of trafficking but as crimes against humanity. The prosecution of criminal cases of trafficking in Ukraine is also very low. In 2022 there were only 77 cases registered and there were no verdicts on the crime of trafficking in Ukraine.

Despite all these difficulties of war time, Caritas Ukraine continues its work for prevention of human trafficking, screening the potential survivors and providing comprehensive assistance to the most vulnerable ones. Currently we work in 5 regions of Ukraine – Kyiv, Odesa, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv. 

In June 2023 we concluded our 12 months project and may present the main achievements and finding outs. During this period Caritas Ukraine employees identified 130 survivors of human trafficking and all of them received comprehensive and tailor-made assistance. All of them are reintegrated into their communities and 99% are completely satisfied by Caritas provided services. Here is their feedback. 

Ihor, 46 years old, victim of labour exploitation: “I worked for almost 6 months, I didn’t see the way out. At least I had something to eat and a place to sleep. I tried to cover my debt, but it grew every month. I’m grateful for Caritas people who helped me to escape from this slavery. And special thanks for assistance with food and searching good job. I would have never done it by myself, I don’t use computer, I’m a simple mechanic.” 

Maryna, 34 years old, victim of sexual exploitation: “Such a human, tolerant attitude only underline the qualification level of Caritas staff. Thank you! I already can tell about it without tears and shame. I was not the only one in such situation. And it is not my fault!”

 Majority of cases identified are the cases of labour exploitation (56%), sexual exploitation – 26%, 6% of all the cases are involving into criminal activities. There are also cases of forced begging and involving into war conflict and others. Our beneficiaries were exploited mostly in the country (54%), but also abroad, in Poland (9%), France (7%), Italy (6%), Czech Republic (6%) and other countries. The gender of the survivors has recently changed. Before the majority of the identified survivors were men, now – women: 72% are female and 28% are male. It can be explained by the influence of war and growing the cases of labour and sexual exploitation of woman. More details about our beneficiaries are in our infographics https://infogram.com/mizhnarodnij-blagodijnij-fond-karitas-1gl8m3dqwqk7p36

Totally, we conducted 286 prevention and information events conducted for almost 8 thousand participants. More than 46 thousand leaflets, flyers, booklets, posters, copybooks, stickers, bracelets, and other informational and promo production was delivered. 158 thematic articles or posts appeared in social media, newspapers, local radio, and TV. Generally, almost 100 thousand people were informed and prevented from trafficking! 

Caritas Ukraine serves the most vulnerable survivors of human trafficking and appels for justice, freedom, humanity, dignity, inclusion, merciful love, and fraternity!

Prepared by Nataliya Holynska, Expert in counter trafficking: nholynska@caritas.ua  

Caritas Ukraine: https://caritas.ua/ 

News from RENATE Member, Sr. Gabriela Hasiura, Poland: EtnoKino Film Festival, Screening of “Called to Give Voice to the Voiceless”, July 17th, 2023.

 

From 10 to 19 July 2023 in Myślenice, Poland, the 1st Film Festival “EtnoKino” takes place. This event is the latest edition of the International Lesser Poland Meetings with Folklore. The event is organized in partnership with the Pro Futuris Foundation. The festival presents films on broadly understood ethnic topics, which refer to current and past ethnic conflicts. The films are adapted to different age groups of recipients.


On July 17, 2023, the film “Called to Give Voice to the Voiceless” was shown, which shows the activities of RENATE in the field of counteracting and fighting human trafficking.
The organizers emphasize that the support and enthusiasm of the participants made this unique event even more inspiring and meaningful. After the screening, there was a meeting with Ms. Anna Obyrtacz, a lay missionary. She shared her experiences from Africa and Montreal, emphasizing that everyone has the right to have their chance in life – to find themselves.


In the opinion of the organizers, the presence of festival viewers in the cinema was not only an expression of interest and curiosity, but also a manifestation of support for the topic that touched everyone. This commitment to listening to the stories and voices of those who were silenced was extremely important and had a profound impact on what they experienced on screen.


More can be found at www.festival.myslenice.pl or at https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=pfbid02dhh5XHvvS4oYdGGGvYwh3rqsnWzrQACTGhbVyh4hBQFTePgo4f5oYRyUa49T6RxGl&id=100093951887294

Sister Anna Bałchan awarded 2023 Woman of Courage Award by UNANIMA International

 

For many years now, UNANIMA International has presented an annual “Woman of Courage Award,” which honors Women from around the World who have exhibited exceptional courage and leadership to make a difference in their communities. Each year nominations are submitted by our member congregations, and a vote is held by UNANIMA International’s Board of Directors.

We are excited to announce that our 2023 award will go to Sister Anna Bałchan SMI, from the Congregation of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate in Poland. She is a theologian, therapist, and social activist.  Sr Anna is a member of the Interdisciplinary Team for Counteracting Trafficking in Human Beings at the Ministry of Interior and Administration; the Provincial Team for Counteracting Trafficking in Human Beings (Silesian Province); the Interdisciplinary Team for Counteracting Violence in the Family; the All-Poland Network of NGOs against Trafficking in Human Beings; and a Board Member of the “Bakhita” Network. She has over 19 years’ experience working with victims of human trafficking, including working on the streets to help the homeless, addicts and sex workers. 

Sr Anna is one of the founders of the Association and Care Centre which helps victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. The Center assures social and material help for those under its care, helping them recover their balance—both psychological and spiritual—and regain the sense of self-respect and dignity. It provides twenty-four-hour care, including therapeutic activities, and gives those in need the opportunity to enter a support group.

RENATE Online Prayer Retreat Marking World Day Against Trafficking in Human Persons, July 30th, & Invitation from House of Prayer Member, Sr. Gabriela Hasiura.

 

In preparation for World Day Against Trafficking in Human Persons, 30th July, RENATE will host a self-directed, online prayer retreat, taking place from 22nd – 30th July 2023.

This prayer retreat, organised by the RENATE House of Prayer Task Group, is a self-led, online retreat, and will be shared daily with all RENATE members via e-mail and the RENATE Facebook page in the nine days leading up to the World Day Against Trafficking in Human Persons. Our thanks to the RENATE House of Prayer Task Group, especially Sr. Gabriella Mezinger for her continued efforts in making this retreat possible, and Sr. Gabriela Hasiura for her inspiring call to action, shared below. 

We invite you to encourage those you know to join us – Let’s become the voice of the voiceless!

“July 30th is World Anti-Trafficking Day. Especially on this day, law enforcement authorities, including the police, governmental and non-governmental organizations try to make the public aware of what human trafficking is and how to avoid it.

Human trafficking is the name of a criminal practice that is a modern form of slavery. However, above all, it should be remembered that this is a crime that undermines the basic human values, which are freedom and human dignity.

I would like to invite everyone who cares about helping the victims of this crime and finally ending modern day trafficking in human beings to join in this beautiful prayerful reflection in preparation for the celebration of the World Day against trafficking in human beings. We all need to unite our human and spiritual forces and cry out with one voice for God’s Mercy for the world – for each of us, and especially for the gift of a new life for all the victims and the grace of conversion for the perpetrators. May these 9 days of our short prayer and reflection obtain many graces for millions of people imprisoned and abused. May they experience the tenderness and touch of a loving God and may His Power be revealed through the courage of those who come to their aid.”