Human trafficking for the purpose of prostitution has been compared to the slavery of Africans in terms of the number of victims it creates. It is a global industry, exploiting the flesh of very young girls who have grown up in difficult circumstances and who are seeking a better life. This international illegal trade is extremely well-organised and highly profitable, yielding mind-boggling sums. Today’s sex industry is truly global and to combat this modern slave trade the Community set up the Anti-Human Trafficking Service.
In the early 1990s, Father Benzi launched the sharing in the streets experience in which contact groups meet up with women forced into street prostitution and, once they had established a relationship of trust, offered them a way out in the form of a welcome in a Community home.
We see them every night walking the streets in the poor quarters of our cities.
We call them prostitutes but we know nothing them of them as people, of their girlhood dreams or of their suffering. Our encounters with the hidden suffering of these young women, some of them still little girls, in which their right to womanhood is being trampled underfoot, have convinced us of the urgency of fighting with and for them. The Community was the first association in Italy to do this, welcoming them in and creating homes especially for them where they could recover the dignity denied them.
We must stop hiding this terrible violence behind the screen of “the oldest profession in the world”.
The recovery process we offer guarantees legal and psychological assistance and health care, helping them to untangle all the bureaucratic knots, to learn Italian and providing them with training courses.
There are now twenty of these street units in Italy.
From February 2008 an anti-trafficking free-phone service has been active 24 hours a day available to women forced into prostitution and also to their clients and anyone else wishing to help liberate these modern-day slaves.
Father Oreste Benzi took endless action to tear human-trafficking up by the roots, the most significant of which was a petition bearing 100,000 signatures in favour of legislation to punish clients, generating a draft bill prompted by the public and submitted to the Italian parliament in 2004.