August: Reflection Eight

HUMAN TRAFFICKING

“Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; all these things areinfamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator. (Gaudium et Spes, 27).

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people (Lk 4:16 – 19).

Read and reflect on the story. 

Maria was an attractive young woman of 20 living with her parents in Matola in Mozambique, where she was looking after her two young children and helping to support younger siblings by selling vegetables. One day her friend Gloria told her a man she knew was looking for girls to work for him. When they met Mr Dibi he explained he wanted young women for his restaurant in Johannesburg. Maria didn’t have money but he told her not to worry as he would see to everything. Maria’s parents agreed to let her go. Maria and three other girls were picked up by a taxi that took them to a remote spot on the border where they crossed illegally by crawling under the fence on their knees.

They were brought to a private house in Pretoria where Maria was raped by a number of men who told her she should thank them for breaking her in for a big job that would bring in lots of money. In shock Maria was taken the next day to a brothel in Johannesburg and told that she had to work as a prostitute to pay back the money that was spent to bring her to Johannesburg. She wanted to run away but had no money. She was kept like a prisoner in the house for months and forced to have sex with many men every day but never earned enough money to pay her debt. In the end she did fall pregnant, and contracted an STD. Her bosses wanted her to have an abortion but she refused and was put out on the street with other prostitutes. It was then she managed to escape and was found by an anti-trafficking worker who took her to a safe house where she could have her baby and later return home to Matola.

Questions for reflection and action:

From reading Luke 4: 16- 19 who do you think are the captives of today?

What does the Church document Gaudium et Spes have to say about the dignity and freedom of every person?

Why was Maria vulnerable to this kind of exploitation?

How can we bring hope to people who are vulnerable and exploited in this way?

How would you warn people about human trafficking?

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