We use our own and third party cookies to improve your user experience; by continuing to browse, we understand that you accept their use. You can get more information on our cookies policy.

Rome Reports

You are using an outdated browser

In order to deliver the greatest experience to our visitors we use cutting edge web development techniques that require a modern browser. To view this page please use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer 11 or greater

“I was beaten, they put cigarettes out on my body.” The drama of prostitution

“I arrived in Italy when I was 16 years old. They immediately grabbed me and put me in a dark room for about two months. During this period, I was beaten, they put out cigarettes on my body. They brought clients to that room, and they would also beat me.”

Situations like these are the daily experience of many women, who because of poverty and marginalization, are victims of trafficking and are obligated to give up what's most precious to them: their dignity.

The Pope John XXIII Community has seen in their eyes a desire to escape this suffering.

Pope John XXIII Community
“For us it's a huge injustice. We don't think prostitution is the world's oldest occupation. It's the world's oldest injustice. They're human beings who need to recover the dignity that was taken from them. That's why since 1995, we've been working in the peripheries.”

In the years since, they've freed about 5,000 women from the slavery of prostitution. They're predominantly from Africa and Latin America.

Pope John XXIII Community
“The first contact with these women happens in the street. We introduce ourselves, we tell them what we do, why we're there and why we want to meet them. We have a phone number where they can reach us if they need to, though the women who want to come with us immediately are welcome.”

During those years, they've done away with a number of misconceptions about this drama, like for example, that it's a free choice.

The moment a woman decides to leave that world to go to the Pope John XXIII Community, she is offered shelter and formation so she can move forward.

Pope John XXIII Community
“There was a Nigerian girl we met who was a minor. She wanted to leave that world as soon as she met us. She was pregnant and immediately came with us. Now she's the mother of a beautiful, precious boy. She's become independent. She finished her studies and now works. These are stories that make an impact.”

During the quarantine, their work intensified, as they had to offer support and explain security measures.

Pope Francis himself has drawn close to the work of the Pope John XXIII Community. During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, he visited one of its houses in Rome and made a very special gesture.

July 29, 2019
Today, I ask you all for forgiveness. For all the Christians, for all the Catholics, who have abused you. I also ask for forgiveness on my part, for not having sufficiently prayed for you and for this slavery.

The pope has defined prostitution very harshly. He says it's a disease of humanity, a disgusting vice that confuses love with instinct, resulting in the torture of defenseless women.

Daniel Díaz Vizzi

Translation: CT