The Holy See is prodding the United Nations to take women’s rights seriously by targeting the demand of men to buy sex with little girls.
“It seems incongruous that, at a time when the sensitivity for women’s issues appears stronger than ever, the world is now obliged to confront new forms of violence and slavery directed especially at women,” wrote Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations. The letter was delivered March 2 to the 51st session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which chose a year-long theme: “The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child.”
Archbishop Migliore moved the dialogue further by addressing the marketplace of victimization: “It is not enough to sensationalize their tragic plight; rather there is a need to trace the question back to the market that exists due to the demand which makes such trade possible and profitable.”
He recommended to the United Nations committee that it “mandate to intervene in order to overcome this situation.”
The Vatican has a long track record on aggressively fighting human trafficking. Pope Benedict considered it “necessary” to address the issue at the 92nd World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Oct. 18, 2005: “… trafficking in human beings – especially women – … flourishes where opportunities to improve their standard of living or even to survive are limited. It becomes easy for the traffickers to offer his own ‘services’ to the victims, who often do not even vaguely suspect what awaits them.”
Within his speech Pope Benedict quoted his forerunner, Pope John Paul II about “the widespread hedonistic and commercial culture which encourages the systematic exploitation of sexuality.”
The Church saw this marketplace of victimization before NGOs in the field even named it such. On May 15, 2002 Pope John Paul II addressing 21st Century slavery said, “The disturbing tendency to treat prostitution as a business or industry not only contributes to the trade in human beings, but is itself evidence of a growing tendency to detach freedom from the moral law and to reduce the rich mystery of human sexuality to a mere commodity.”