Trafficked women in Italy retain faith despite exploitation, nun says
Published: June 22, 2005
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Women smuggled into Italy and forced to work as prostitutes experience a "nightmare" of exploitation and abuse that leave them intensely traumatized, said an Italian nun who heads an anti-trafficking initiative. But despite the deep emotional and psychological damage wrought on the women, many "do not lose their faith in God," Consolata Sister Eugenia Bonetti told Catholic News Service June 20. Sister Bonetti was one of dozens of participants in a June 20-21 Vatican-sponsored conference on how the church could help improve pastoral care to women forced into the sex trade. The Italian nun heads anti-trafficking activities for the Union of Major Superiors of Italy. In 2004 she was honored by the U.S. State Department for her "innovative and creative" work in the fight against the trafficking of sex workers. The union's initiative offers care and shelter for African and East European women who escape their captors. Almost 90 percent of the African women forced into prostitution in Italy come from Nigeria and many of them are Christian, she said. Sister Bonetti said the majority of women come to Europe hoping to work as housekeepers or babysitters. "Without realizing it, they are trapped into this terrible new form of slavery," she said.
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