The JDPC Archdiocese of Lagos held a Press Conference to mark the International Day of Prayer & Awareness against Human Trafficking in Memory of St. Bakhita with the theme: “Children they are! Not slaves!” at St Leo’s Catholic Church, Ikeja, Lagos.
The message of His Holiness, Pope Francis on this occasion was: “Dear brothers and sisters, today 8 February, the liturgical memorial of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese Sister, who as a child had the traumatic experience of being a victim of trafficking, the International Union of Superiors General of Religious Institutes have promoted the Day of Prayer and Reflection against Trafficking in Persons. I encourage all those who are committed to helping men, women and children enslaved, exploited, abused as tools of pleasure and often tortured and mutilated. I hope that those who have responsibilities in government will seriously strive to eliminate the causes of this shameful scourge, a scourge unworthy of a civilized society. Let each of us be committed to being a voice for our brothers and sisters, humiliated and deprived of their dignity.”
The press conference was anchored by Monsignor Aniagwu, Parish Priest, St. Leo’s Catholic Church; Rev. Fr. Raymond Anoliefo, Director Justice Development and Peace Center, Archdiocese of Lagos and Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles while members of the Catholic women Organization, JDPC’s delegates representing each deaneries, lay faithfuls and the representative of various media houses were in attendance. The Press Conference highlights the suffering and the hope of trafficked children and adolescents. According to the last official statistic of the United Nation, one out of three victims of trafficking is a child. The numbers of trafficked people who are minors are constantly increasing worldwide. Children and adolescents are trafficked for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced marriage, illegal adoptions, forced labour, organs harvesting, begging, criminal acts (like child soldiers, drug smuggling) and witchcraft.
It is urgent to listen to the cries of these little ones and to the cries of every family and every community, who in one way or the other experiences violence, exploitation and slavery. It is equally urgent to listen to the cries of anyone who is being maltreated, injured and humiliated.