Cardinal Vegliò: Women Migrants Are Brutalized, Still Hopeful

Vatican Official Considers Plight of 80% of Refugees Fleeing Wars, Rights Violations

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ROME, MAY 24, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Women migrants are often caught up in tragic situations and are affected by violence, said Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò at an encounter held today in Rome.

He was speaking at the second in a series of “Town Hall Meetings on Migration” held at the Centro Studi Americani (American Study Center). The event is sponsored by the United States’ embassy to the Holy See and it was moderated by the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, Miguel Díaz.

Cardinal Vegliò, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, titled his address, “Building bridges of opportunity: Women and Migration.”

Women in forced migration, he explained, in spite of all the difficulties they have faced “believe wholeheartedly that the future offers change and possibilities, and are confident to reconstruct their lives.”

Nevertheless, “each of them has faced a tragic situation full of brute force, violence and traumatic experiences.”

The majority of conflicts today, Cardinal Vegliò explained, are civil wars in which civilians account for 80% of the casualties. Currently, no less than 43 million people have been forced to flee their homes because of war or human rights violations, and 80% of them are women, children or young people.

“Women and girls have become the targets in the many conflicts, leading to abduction and brutality,” he observed.

“Rape has been used strategically, as a weapon of war in attempts to destroy the opposing culture, leading to ‘ethnic cleansing,’ and to control the territory,” Cardinal Vegliò added.

The Church, through a variety of its charitable organizations, is assisting these migrants and helping to prepare them for resettlement, as well as dealing with the physical, emotional and psychosocial needs of women and adolescent girls.

Cardinal Vegliò also addressed the phenomenon of human trafficking. Almost every country is confronted with this problem, he observed. People are often deceived about their future activities and end up in situations similar to slavery, from which it is difficult to escape.

The Church has an International Network of Consecrated Life Against Trafficking in Persons, Talitha Kum, which operates in 82 countries. As well, COATNET (Christian Organisations against Trafficking in Human Beings) is present in 30 countries and is operating under the authority of Caritas Internationalis.

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Full text: http://www.zenit.org/article-34839?l=english

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