Sex trafficking is “modern day slavery” and exists under the radar, according to an Irish bishop who has worked with an international group to combat human trafficking.
Bishop Denis Brennan reacted to figures released by Ruhama, a charity that helps women involved in prostitution, which reveal large amounts of women continue to be smuggled into Ireland to be sold for sex.
He said that often people think that human slavery is historic, but it’s “alive and well” in the 21st Century and that some people believe there are more slaves today than ever before.
“Modern day slavery thrives on secrecy. It is often hidden in plain sight because as Pope Francis says ‘its victims are held by invisible chains’,” Bishop Brennan told The Irish Catholic.
“Modern slavery operates under the radar, so the most effective thing we as citizens can do is to shine a light on it, to talk about it, to realise that it happens, and that it may be nearer to us than we realise.”
In addition to human trafficking, he said, the reasons for women entering prostitution can include poverty, domestic violence, drug addiction, homelessness and mental health problems. “From a Church perspective and to counteract the tendency to stigmatise women affected by prostitution it is vital that the human dignity of those involved in prostitution is always acknowledged.
“Victims of human trafficking often feel that they have nowhere to go, that nobody cares about them, and that everybody they meet is out to exploit them.” He praised Ruhama for their work.