In 2021, 26,065 Asian women were saved from human trafficking by “Talitha Kum,” a federation of Catholic sisters committed to the fight and eradication of human trafficking.
“Prevention was the priority for the Asian networks. It has been promoted through training and awareness campaigns in schools, parishes, and local communities, particularly targeting women, youth, religious, and tribal communities, and migrant workers,” said Sister Abby Avelino, Director of Talitha Kum Asia.
According to the sister, the problem of human trafficking in Asia has been exacerbated by the current socio-economic situation. Many countries in Asia are facing severe economic crises due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and political conflicts, such as Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.
“Crises like this increase the number of people vulnerable to trafficking, especially women, girls, young people, migrants, and refugees. The predominant forms of human trafficking, both nationally and internationally, are forced labor, forced marriage, and sexual exploitation,” explains the sister in a report by Talitha Kum sent to Fides.
“As economic problems grow more complicated, the most vulnerable people find themselves trapped in exploitation to survive. Cyber-trafficking and online child sexual exploitation (OSEC) are examples of traps,” says Sister Avelino, who is part of the Maryknoll Missionaries congregation.
Talitha Kum Networks in Asia held monthly webinars on human trafficking to strengthen prevention, protection, strengthening capacity, and networking, as well as collaboration and advocacy.
The impact of this program has given greater visibility to the Talitha Kum networks. Talitha Kum Bangladesh and Talitha Kum Vietnam were established in 2021.
“We have organized activities within the framework of the sufficiency economy program, helping women and young people in villages and mountain areas to manage natural food resources. This program has had a satisfying impact on the local community by supporting and promoting capacity building,” notes Sr. Avelino.
“We launched the Talitha Kum Anti-Trafficking Youth Ambassadors program in 2021 to engage more young people in Talitha Kum's vision and mission. Young women and men, representing ten Asian countries, have been trained to become anti-trafficking ‘ambassadors’ to their local peers,” she notes.
Talitha Kum is an international network of sisters, based in Rome, dedicated to fighting and eradicating human trafficking. It was founded by the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).
Talitha Kum Asia works with 65 Catholic organizations, 56 NGOs, 18 national organizations, and 42 international government agencies. In the Asian region, Talitha Kum has 3,521 members from 205 religious congregations in 20 countries.
In 2021, Talitha Kum Asia provided assistance and support to 3,972 victims of human trafficking. It also organized 3,909 training courses and workshops.