The Holy See says that prostitution is slavery, the exploitation of women, violence against women; it is connected with trafficking in human beings, an abuse of human rights, and also reveals deeply rooted problems of all customers. The church teaches us that Christians, collectively, must address this problem and help in the long and difficult process of treating the victims and their customers.
Wisely, the Vatican says that “In order to develop an effective pastoral response it is important to know which factors drive or draw women into prostitution, the strategies brokers and exploiters use to keep them under their control, the routes they take from their countries of origin to reach the countries of destination and the institutional resources that are required to deal with the problem”.
Commenting on the humans who suffer from this evil, the church says that there is a “common thread” of violence, abuse, mistrust and low self esteem as well as fear and a lack of opportunities. All these victims need healing, new relationships, love, security, affection, self assertion and a better future for themselves and their families.
It is rather interesting that the church now calls the “customers” as people who also need special ministry in resolving the problems that arise primarily from frustration and the “lack of authentic relationships”.
They are also called “slaves”. Most of them are over 40 but, because of our dysfunctional society, increasing members of these “slaves” are also young people between 16 and 24 years of age. TheVaticansays “buying sex” does not resolve the problems they have, it only accentuates them.
The church has a pastoral responsibility to defend and promote human dignity, and to call for their liberation and even to provide economic, educational and formational support to those suffering from it.
The Pope pays tribute to those, particularly religious women, plus others who give active pastoral care to those who need the good news of Jesus Christ. However, he also cautions against going into this work without proper training and preparation. This is work which must be done in consultation with various agencies, governments and other bodies which work in this field. The Pope knows that much of women trafficking and prostitution comes fromEastern Europeand operates in theMiddle East. Therefore, he particularly calls on Eastern churches to take his request seriously. We know about this problem amongst the new Ukrainian immigration. In a way, it is not just someone else’s problem.
It is a complex problem and calls for an inspired solution from the Holy Spirit.