Some of the women told their stories, including how they were rescued, how their lives have changed and the situations they are in now.
There was “a lot of interest” on the part of Ivanka, they said, noting that she “listened very carefully” to their stories, but also asked questions about possible legislative initiatives on the part of the government to stop human trafficking, specifically when it comes to women.
Trafficking in the Mediterranean and Africa was mentioned specifically, including the trafficking of children, and a strong emphasis was placed on how the process begins in the countries where the victims originate.
According to the women from Sant’Egidio, Ivanka referred to her brief meeting with Pope Francis earlier that morning, telling the women that he is “a great advocate of your stories” of success and integration.
Ivanka then asked the victims what could be done. They said there is a greater need for communication and the sharing of information in their countries of origin, since many women are tricked into a trafficking ring under the false pretense that they will be moving to Europe for legitimate work, in many cases as a cook or maid.
They said that “public campaigns” are needed, because most women “never imagined” they would end up being trafficked.
In addition to the trafficking of persons, organ trafficking was also discussed, as well as the role of religion in ending violence and achieving peace, the freedom of women and the education of children.
In brief comments to journalists, Sant’Egidio founder and president Andrea Riccardi noted that Ivanka made a strong reference to collaboration with the organization’s projects in Africa, specifically in terms of helping to get legal documents for the continent’s “ghost children,” meaning children who are not registered and therefore have no legal identity, making them extra vulnerable and easy prey for traffickers.
Riccardi said Ivanka also showed a strong interest in an initiative the community is currently trying to push forward in Italy to get legal documents for women rescued from forced prostitution.
Before leaving with her father on his first international tour, Ivanka hosted an anti-human trafficking roundtable discussion at the White House May 17. The event gathered a swath of bipartisan lawmakers and representatives of numerous organizations that deal with human trafficking.
According to reports, Ivanka spoke during that discussion about the Trump administration’s efforts to combat trafficking not only in the U.S., but throughout the world, telling attendees that “combatting human trafficking and modern slavery is both a moral and strategic interest domestically and abroad.”
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That particular roundtable was a follow-up to a February discussion on the same topic, which was also organized by Ivanka. At the time, President Trump said he would use the “full force and weight” of the U.S. government to fight against trafficking.