.- The Vatican will host its first international meeting to discuss the growing worldwide problem of the sex trade, namely human trafficking, sex tourism and prostitution. Fides reported that the two-day International Meeting for the Pastoral Care of Women on the Streets will gather about 50 representatives of religious congregations, Church associations and bishops conferences, June 20-21. The delegates are from 24 countries in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa.
The goal of the meeting, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants, is to foster co-operation and co-ordination among those working on the front line.
According to the International Organization for Migration, about 500,000 women from Eastern Europe are forced live in situations of slavery and prostitution in Western Europe.
Migration, family and social deficiencies, economic difficulties and prevailing pan-sexuality are at the root of the international phenomenon, which every year involves one million women and children from developing countries.
In Thailand, an estimated 150,000-200,000 women are on the streets; of these 35,000 are under 18. In Italy, there are about 40,000 women in the sex trade, including 4,000 minors.
Council president Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao will open the two day meeting in Rome. The conference will feature a presentation by Mariette Grange of the International Catholic Commission on human trafficking of women and children for the sex trade. As well, Fr. Oreste Benzi, head of the Pope John XXIII Community Association will speak on “Pastoral care for redemption and liberation.”Delegates will report on their various experiences in different countries. They will draft recommendations and proposals for pastoral care for women and children in the sex trade.