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Myanmar Cardinal warns on human trafficking

Cardinal Charles M. Bo (File photo: RVA News)

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) published the statement on human trafficking on May 18. 

“Despite great efforts of good people against the scourge of this modern-day slavery, the spiraling conflict in places like Ukraine and Myanmar has infused a new and desperate urgency into this issue,” said Cardinal Bo, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM). 

Human trafficking happens in every country, in war zones, where millions are fleeing. 

Cardinal Bo said that to be a Christian today is to wage a war against human trafficking. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that human trafficking generates US$ 150.2 billion in illegal profits each year, the third biggest illicit economy in the world, next to arms sales and the earnings of the drug cartels. 

The cardinal recalls the word of Pope Francis, “Human trafficking is a ‘crime against humanity,’’ because it denies the human dignity of the victim, seeing him or her only as a piece of merchandise to be used to enrich or give pleasure to another.”

The president of FABC enumerates the three most common types of human trafficking which are sex trafficking, debt bondage, and forced labor, also known as involuntary servitude.

Escalating this human tragedy is the added agonies of forced marriage, forced begging, and forced reproduction. 

No country is safe from this nefarious trade. Preying on the world’s most marginalized groups, criminal gangs traffic victims from 127 countries and export them as commodities to 137 countries. 

Even among them children and women form a major percentage of innocent victims. One in every five victims is a child. Two-thirds of the world’s trafficked victims are women. Weak are expendable, commodifiable and marketable: a new dark logic rules the criminal world without much resistance, added the cardinal. 

The prelate describes the trading of human body parts as a new type of Cannibalism that threatens the most vulnerable people, especially in poor countries of Asia and Africa.

“Commodification of human body parts is a new feature of the global healthcare market. The result is a wide availability of low-cost resources needed for specific treatments (organs, human material, surrogate mothers, etc.),” the statement reads, “This is a billion-dollar market benefiting mostly the rich.”

Following the Pope’s threefold commitment to prevention, victim protection and the legal prosecution of perpetrators, there is an urgent, proactive, preventive process that needs to be planned and implemented to resist this new kind of commodification of human beings, added Cardinal Bo. 

The cardinal recalls the words of Pope Francis on the World Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking is: “The Catholic Church intends to intervene in every phase of human trafficking: she wants to protect them from deception and solicitation; she wants to find them and free them when they are transported and reduced to slavery. She wants to assist them when they are free.” 

Regarding the Church's response, Myanmar Cardinal states that active participation is needed in fortifying the efforts of socially conscious scientists and human rights lawyers.  

The church continues to be a vibrant partner in all global efforts to resist the dark side of globalization such as human trafficking. Now is the call to turn her attention more to the emerging global markets of human cannibalism.

Raising awareness and campaigning has been two-pronged approaches of the church in combatting Human Trafficking. The church can promote a safe environment both in poor countries and rich countries by inter-connection among the countries. 

Four areas need the attention and awareness building of the local churches to help the people, especially those in vulnerable social contexts. They are:

1. Society. Human trafficking victimizes individuals affected in all areas of their lives: it undermines family ties and leads to societal stigmatization. 

2. Policy. As it involves transnational movement, human trafficking relates directly to debates on migration policy and human rights.

3. Economy. Trafficking in person results in loss of human resources, reductions in tax revenue, and the disruption of the licit cycle of the economy from migrants and their families, to traffickers and their associates.

4. Rule of law. As a criminal act, trafficking violates the rule of law, threatening national jurisdictions and international law. – RVA Sgaw Karen 


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.