Traded as Merchandise

Adapted from Anglican Communion News Service

The Most Rev. Francisco de Assis da Silva, Primate of the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil (the Episcopal Anglican Church in Brazil), has called for action to combat and prevent human trafficking.

In a letter to the churches in his province, Archbishop da Silva says that human trafficking is “a human tragedy that only in the last years has been noticed by governments and non-governmental organizations.”

“In our country, human rights bodies have denounced several categories of human trafficking, such as slave labour, organ trafficking, sexual exploitation of boys and girls, and illegal adoption of children. Human trafficking has no borders and exists both here in Brazil and abroad.”

“Brazilian society must be more conscious about this silent and obscure problem, which amasses at least 30 billion dollars in the world, enriching national and international mafias. Children and adults are lured into a world of dreams that becomes a nightmare. Economic and social exploitation submits them to [undignified] living conditions and, many times, to death.

“The Church reaffirms its commitment to human dignity and places itself emphatically against such crimes. Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and carries an ontological dignity which must not be violated. No person should be submitted to restrictions on his or her freedom, mobility and ability to choose work.

“Nobody should be traded as merchandise, regardless of age, social condition or gender.”

The archbishop sent his letter in the week that the United Nations launched its Blue Heart campaign against human trafficking. The Blue Heart campaign is an initiative to fight human trafficking and its harm to society by encouraging people across the world to help fight this crime.

Last December, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque joined Pope Francis and other leaders in pledging to fight human trafficking.

Modern slavery “fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity,” the leaders said in a joint statement. “We pledge ourselves here today to do all in our power, within our faith communities and beyond, to work together for the freedom of all those who are enslaved and trafficked so that their future may be restored.”

“In several Anglican provinces, actions are being taken to raise awareness about this theme,” Archbishop da Silva said in his letter. “Our Brazilian province should do the same in concrete ways.

“I call upon our Province to engage with combatting and preventing human trafficking. May our dioceses and churches save some time to gather their members and discuss about it, offering prayers for victims and their families. These actions can be done in partnership with other churches and human rights organizations.”

He called on churches to establish parish-based groups when there is not a local network working against human trafficking: “May God inspire us to take into consideration this time as an opportunity so we learn about this topic and take action protecting victims, preventing these crimes, and proclaiming prophetic words wherever we are,”

Image: Soldiers carry the coffin of one of 24 victims of human trafficking. The victims died April 19 after their boat capsized as they were crossing the Mediterranean Sea. • Ray Attard/European Union

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