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Slave trade is an evil from which mankind fails – guiltily – to break free. The only thing that has changed from ancient times till present days is the system used to capture human beings in order to turn them into bargaining chip. These desperate people pass through the hands of the criminals in the desert, then in those of the smugglers, feeding thus an unimaginable business. Prostitution, labor, and organ sales are the profits of this new business.

Yet, in the aftermath of the WWII, when destruction and poverty plagued the defeated countries, there was desire for recovery. It took the shape of combative energy whose aim was the conquest of renewed prosperity and of a new civilization. This thrust determined not only a remarkable economic recovery, but also important achievements in terms of full recognition of all the civil and democratic rights. Among the transformations that characterized those changes, there was the dignity of women, which in Italy, for instance, led to the abrogation of the Merlin law and to the shutting down of the brothels.

Then, material poverty seemed to be ransomed by full possess of values that have not been dampened by the misery of war. Today, our poverty becomes misery because people lose also their conscience. Among the manifestations of hollowness going on, there are bills that seek to regulate the restoration of prostitution, considering it a “normal” working activity.

It is often said that “work ennobles man,” but this can happen only if it is an expression of freedom, not when it deeply tramples on the dignity of the person. Human body cannot become an object of trade, as it unfortunately happens on the routes that sow despair and death near the shores of Italy. No form of slavery can be regulated; the law protects man and his dignity.

Prostitution is always a behavior that stupefies both those who sell and those who buy; one cannot commodify the body without contaminate their souls. The customer is the expression of human frailty and weakness, but also of a blind and ruthless selfishness. Creating demand, the latter feeds the international traffic of new slaves. It is no coincidence that Europe – in accordance with what Father Oreste Benzi, founder of the Community Pope John XXIII, always said – several times invited its Member States to adopt the Nordic model, which penalizes demand. The practice of prostitution has always produced dramas and wounds, which have never healed. The signs of continuous abuse have beset the lives of numerous victims. It is unthinkable that a modern State should legitimize such unprecedented and shameful forms of violence.

Also young people are among the unaware victims of this vile market. They may grow up considering that it is normal and harmless to buy and sell human beings for sexual purposes. Our society has failed to hand down credible models to the coming generations and to teach them the importance of making choices of values; boosting new forms of violence contributes make them feel underdogs, aggravating even further the inner discomfort which is ravaging them. Pope Francis’ Church embraces the latest and the weakest and constantly urges the governments to fight all forms of oppression and exploitation, in accordance with the teachings of the Gospel. This appeal must not simply be respected, but also fully accepted, calling onto our Christian commitment towards those who are suffering because they were deprived of their dignity. Men and women who promote this gloomy market hide their inability to love in the broadest sense of the word, for he who always loves, respects the other in the first place.

It is a message that is going to be the leitmotif of tonight’s “Via Crucis in Support of Crucified Women”. Departing at 7.30 p.m. from the Church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia, Rome, we will remember the daily Calvary of the victims of trafficking, forced prostitution, and violence. An opportunity to think and pray, which will unfold in seven stations, to combat these evils and sensitize our government not to let so many young women alone.

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