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Religious anti-human trafficking group ‘gaining muscle’

Religious anti-human trafficking group ‘gaining muscle’

Sr. Mary Adel Abamo, Talitha Kum Philippine coordinator, at their office in Quezon City

MANILA – A group comprising different congregations has grown more muscles in the past 8 years while combating human trafficking in the country as well as in its Asian neighbors.
“The more anti-human trafficking advocates, the better,” said Sr. Mary Adel Abamo, the group’s Philippine coordinator. “More can blow the whistle to crackdown this crime.”

Established in 2009, the Talitha Kum has grown from 10 partner congregation to 40 as of November 2017,

Prevention better than cure

“About 90 percent of the group’s religious advocates are sisters from different congregations, and only 10 percent priests. Lay people are also on board,” she noted.

The group seeks to stop human trafficking through preventive programs like awareness drives since they believe prevention is better than cure.

They plan to identify and form more advocates in schools, dormitories, and communities to broaden the campaign of educating people on the whys and hows of human trafficking.

According to Abamo, the number of documented trafficked children in the Philippines a year or two ago has reached 60,000 to 100,000, while the number of men and women 300,000 to 400,000.

The nun also expressed alarm over the rising figure of Filipino children forced by their own parents to pose naked online, which she explained, is also considered human trafficking.

‘Modern slavery’

“Sex and labor exploitations are seen as modern slavery,” she said.

According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, Tier 1, “a significant number” out of an estimated 10 million Filipinos working abroad are “subjected to sex and labor trafficking” in different work places across the Middle East, Asia, and North America.

The report also states that forced labor and sex trafficking is still a problem in the Philippines. The most vulnerable to sex trafficking are women and children from remote areas. Trafficking also happens in some tourist destinations in the country.

Talitha Kum partners with government and non-government organizations in fighting human trafficking.

A project of the International Union of Superior Generals, Talitha Kum, which means “arise,” has a growing number of advocates in 11 countries in Southeast Asia and East Asia and in four countries in South Asia. CBCPNews