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Human trafficking: “No law is really on the side of the victim”


RENATE is a network organization of nuns and religious congregations that work to stop human trafficking in Europe. It was founded in 2009 and operates in 29 European countries.   

According to RENATE, human trafficking is the second-largest organized crime in the world. They say 21 million people are enslaved around the globe; and 4.5 million of them are used for the sex industry. Additionally, profits from sex slavery are estimated around 10 billion dollars.

The president of RENATE, Sr. Imelda Poole helped start this organization after working with women in Albania who had been trafficked.

She discovered that many young girls had been trafficked to Italy to be used for the sex tourist industry there. She also found out that from all the continents in the world, Europe was the only one that did not have a network to fight human trafficking. 

According to Sr. Imelda, one of the biggest challenges in tackling human trafficking is the law.

SR. IMELDA POOLE
President of RENATE
“No law is really on the side of the victim.” “Most victims who have been traumatized are unable to tell their truth anyway for a very long time. Yet they are expected to do it within 45 days in some countries. Otherwise they are deported.”

She says also the court process is not fast enough to helping the victim seek justice; and in countries such as England there is a conflict between justice and capitalism. 

According to Sr. Imelda, Pope Francis has been extraordinary in drawing more attention to human trafficking. She noted that even in his first inaugural speech, he declared his commitment to fighting this scourge in humanity.

SR. IMELDA POOLE
President of RENATE
“He knows trafficked victims. He goes back a long way to working against human trafficking.” “He has walked the walk with girls who have been trafficked. We have met a couple of those girls from Argentina in our meetings and you can see they are friends. So it is like he is authentic. He is not just talking about this. He has actually worked against human trafficking.”

The UK recently awarded Sr. Imelda Poole with an MBE for her work in fighting human trafficking. It is an award that the Queen of the United Kingdom presents for an individual's great service to a community. 

She hopes to use this recognition to help promote the work many people do across the world to fight human exploitation. Alongside others, RENATE'S goal is to end human trafficking by 2030.