Intercultural Human Rights Law Review

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I am grateful to Mr. Mathias Nebel for the invitation to take part in this Parallel Event organized by the "Fondation Caritas in Veritate," addressing the topic of "The Role for Religions in the Fight against Contemporary Forms of Slavery." I also thank H.E. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi for moderating today's event, and Ms. Urmila Bhoola for offering what I'm certain will be thoughtprovoking concluding remarks. As the National Counter-Trafficking Coordinator for the Italian Conference of Women Religious (Union of Women Major Superiors of Italy, or USMI), I have come from Rome to share with you some strategies carried out by hundreds of nuns to effectively combat modem-day slavery. At present, 250 sisters-belonging to 80 congregations-work in more than 100 convents-turned-safe-houses for trafficking victims throughout Italy, often in collaboration with Caritas, other public or private groups, volunteers and associations, but always maintaining their identity motivated by the Gospel imperative: "[w]hatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do it to me." At this very moment, several hundred trafficking victims, from different countries, are sheltered in these homes, being lovingly assisted in rebuilding their broken lives. I am grateful for the opportunity I have today to talk about our experience, because though such strategies are carried out mainly by women religious, there are aspects that could be carried out equally effectively by faith-based organizations.

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