Europe to Address Trafficking in Women and Children

Response to Catholic Church´s Denunciations

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, MAR. 9, 2001 ( The European Commission has launched a campaign against the trafficking of women and children which seeks agreement on joint legal action by all 15 member states.

Thursday, when Woman´s Day was being observed in the European Parliament, commissioners Anna Diamantopulu and Antonio Vitorino presented an initiative to deal with the problem.

Their proposal, supported by Euro-Parliament President Nicole Fontaine, would create a common fabric of laws, procedures and penalties to present a common front against the trafficking, Vitorino explained. Among the measures, he proposed the immediate issuing of residence visas to the victims who want to collaborate against the mafias responsible for the trafficking.

Officials estimate that 100,000 children and women every year fall victim to trafficking in the European Union. The E.U. campaign is taking place after the Church publicized detailed reports of cases of women sold to prostitution.

In February, Father Oreste Benzi, founder of the John XXIII Community, reported to European Union Commissioner Romano Prodi and the Nigerian government that 50,000 young Nigerian women are sexually exploited in the streets and brothels of Europe.

Similarly, Father Cesare Lodeserto, director of the Regina Pacis center for victims in Lecce, Italy, has proved to Italian authorities the existence of a network of trafficking in women that reaches Western Europe from countries such as Moldova and Ukraine, passing through former Yugoslavia.

The problem has captured the attention of the Council of the European Episcopal Conferences. Some episcopates, such as Spain´s, are about to publish official documents on the problem.

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