World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2023: Testimony of Maria, a survivor who found her inner strength

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2023: Testimony of Maria, a survivor who found her inner strength

On the occasion of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, July 30, 2023, the Congregation of Sisters Adorers Handmaids of the Blessed Sacrament and Charity shares the testimony of Maria (not her real name), a survivor of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

At the age of 19, Maria was recruited by a woman who promised her a job at a restaurant in Peru. However, upon arrival, she discovered that it was, in fact, a Night Club. For several years, she remained trapped in the dark world of prostitution. One day, a friend invited her to attend a workshop organized by the Adorers. There, she not only acquired new skills but, most importantly, learned the profound truth that every woman must recognize the strength within herself. Believing in her own capabilities and placing her trust in God became paramount in Maria’s transformation.

Today, Maria has managed to establish her own business, providing support for her daughter. She emphasizes, “Everything I lacked as a child, I want to provide for her: love, peace of mind, and time”. Maria expresses her deep gratitude to the Sisters Adorers, stating: “They have been a help and continue to stand by me, listening and offering their support. I feel heard and accompanied.”

In the video, Maria shares her complete testimony of liberation, showcasing the commitment of the Sisters Adorers in accompanying trafficked women.

Human trafficking is a grave crime and a severe violation of human rights. Each year, countless men, women, and children fall victim to traffickers, both within their own countries and abroad. Almost every nation in the world is affected by this issue, serving as a country of origin, transit, or destination for the victims.

We, Sisters Adorers, wish to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to providing comprehensive support and accompaniment to women who are victims and survivors of human trafficking.

In 2022 alone, our Social Work has assisted a total of 8,410 women, with 3,745 hailing from Europe and Africa, 3,490 from America, and 1,175 from Asia.

These women come to us seeking help for various pressing situations, including prostitution (3,256 cases), social exclusion (1,791 cases), human trafficking (1,069 cases), lack of protection (815 cases), and gender violence (707 cases).

On World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2023, our theme is “Reach every victim of trafficking, leave no one behind.”

On this significant day, we, Sisters Adorers, unite with the United Nations (UN) under the motto “Reach every victim of trafficking, leave no one behind.” As explained on their website, in the context of human trafficking, leaving people behind signifies:

  1. Failing to put an end to the exploitation of trafficking victims.
  2. Failing to provide adequate support to victim-survivors once they are freed from their traffickers.
  3. Leaving identifiable groups vulnerable to the schemes of traffickers.

The UN highlights that the global crisis, conflicts, and the climate emergency are exacerbating the risks of trafficking. Displacement and socio-economic inequalities have a profound impact on millions of people worldwide, rendering them susceptible to exploitation by traffickers.

Those lacking legal status, living in poverty, facing limited access to education, healthcare, or decent work, experiencing discrimination, violence, or abuse, or belonging to marginalized communities are often the primary targets of traffickers.

The UN’s campaign for World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2023 aims to raise awareness about distressing developments and trends highlighted in the latest UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. It calls upon governments, law enforcement, public services, and civil society to evaluate and strengthen their efforts in prevention, identification, support for victims, and ending impunity.

To end human trafficking (#EndHumanTrafficking), it is essential to strengthen resistance against exploitation and the underlying socio-economic and cultural issues that foster trafficking. Sensitizing everyone to the issue of human trafficking is necessary to direct attention towards those who can make a difference in terms of policy change and national resource management to reinforce prevention measures, improve victim identification, increase support for survivors, and put an end to impunity.

Data provided by the UN reveals concerning trends globally particularly in developing States, national responses appear to be deteriorating, with detection rates declining by 11% in 2020 and convictions plummeting by 27%. This illustrates a widespread slowdown in the criminal justice system’s response to trafficking.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated the fight against trafficking, forcing it to operate even more clandestinely and potentially increasing the dangers faced by victims, as the crime becomes less likely to be noticed by authorities. Alarmingly, only 41% of victims manage to escape their ordeal and reach out to the authorities on their own initiative, highlighting the inadequacy of current anti-trafficking responses.


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