Millions of people around the world are victims of trafficking, forced labor, sexual exploitation, domestic slavery, begging, organ trafficking and forced recruitment of child soldiers.
"The most widespread type of human trafficking is for the purpose of sexual exploitation and affects mainly women and girls. With estimated profits of 3 billion dollars a year, this crime is one of the most profitable enterprises in Europe …," reports the NGO "Médecins du Monde".
What is behind trafficking in human beings? The answer seems simple and the Pope has put his finger in the wound. "Our times have marked a growth of individualism and ego-centrism, or self-centeredness, attitudes that tend to consider others in a merely utilitarian perspective, attributing to them a value according to criteria of convenience and personal advantage."
What should you know about this crime that lacerates human life? "Trafficking seriously harms humanity as a whole, tearing apart the human family and even the Body of Christ.
Trafficking," continues the Pope, "constitutes an unjustifiable violation of the freedom and dignity of victims, constitutive dimensions of the human being wanted and created by God. For this reason it is to be considered a crime against humanity."
The Pope also stressed that "a lot has been done and is being done, but much remains to be done." A phrase that includes the complexity of the phenomenon and the need to work together for the benefit of the "innocent victims of the commodification of the human person; we say the word, without shame: "the commodification of the human person," the Holy Father reiterated, that is people as goods or merchandise.
Certainly, it is a very difficult battle but, Pope Francis continues: "the numerous initiatives carried out in order to prevent trafficking, protect the survivors and prosecute the guilty are worthy of admiration."
The Sustainable Development Goals propose "the elimination of forced labor, modern slavery and human trafficking" by 2030. Presenting the figure of Saint Josephine Bakhita, the Pope concluded by expressing his concern about "a phenomenon as complex as it is obscure"; and speaking directly to those present, he said: "it is risky, but we must move forward".