If Silence Was to Speak: Unveiling the Hidden Wounds of Trafficking of Girls in Africa

Project Director: Sr Leonida Katunge Sr Leonida is a theologian, lawyer, grassroots organizer, and Director of Programs for the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network. As a lawyer, she has been in the fore in the fight for the rights of women and children, especially in securing the inheritance of widows from family members, fighting against sexual exploitation, domestic violence and rape. The new frontiers of her fight have now expanded because of the sad realities facing many young girls in East Africa and other parts of Africa that worsened with the advent of COVID-19 pandemic. When the World Cup was awarded to Qatar, the country and other neighboring countries in the Middle East opened itself to welcoming many workers from Africa and Asia. Many girls from East Africa were lured by criminal gangs and sex traffickers to many countries in the Middle East. The main route for this trafficking rings is Kenya (https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/east-african-human-trafficking-rings-expand-their-operations) This project is inspired by the message of Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti where he says that “we cannot be indifferent to suffering; we cannot allow anyone to go through life as an outcast” (FT, 68). Sadly, many of these trafficked girls return to East Africa as outcast. Many of them are roaming the streets in the Middle East as outcast. This latest aspect of this sad reality of the sexual exploitation and trafficking of African girls is only a continuation of a terrible pattern of violation of African girls that was prevalent in the 80’s and 90’s with the trafficking of African girls and their sexual enslavement in many European countries. In the many wars in Africa particularly in Congo, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Northern Uganda and Central African Republic, and the asymmetrical warfare in the African Sahel, many young girls have been forced into marriages to warlords, raped, killed, and discarded. We also have the cases of young girls who are brought from the rural areas to work as domestic servants in the big cities like Nairobi and Mombasa who end up being sexually abused and violated by their masters or mistresses. Challenged by these sad realities, Sr Leonida and her team of nuns and social workers, lawyers, educationists and psychologists who work with her are committed to fighting for these girls, helping to rehabilitate them, heal their hidden wounds, teach them new skills for re-entry into society, and thus restore their dignity and humanity. It is also a fight that her team is waging against powerful interest groups and criminal networks who will do any and everything to evade the law and to harm those who are working by night and day to dismantle this criminal gang; expose their nefarious activities and conscientize African communities, countries, religious and political leaders on the need to embrace this fight as the most important fight of our times. Unless we stop the abuse and violation of our young people in Africa, there is no future for the continent. We will distinguish ourselves as a special force that uses the word of God, Magisterium and Social teachings of the Church to establish a safer environment and a unified front against trafficking of the girl child. This will be achieved through: Production of a Documentary The documentary will raise awareness and advocate against the trafficking of girls. It will also be a  powerful way to shed light on this important issue in the Church and the wider society.  It will have four chapters: 2: Prevention and Outreach For this to happen we will 3. Ongoing Support This initiative is a project of PACTPAN’s Unit on Women and Gender  and is carried out with the support of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Mombasa which has been engaged in rescuing the trafficked young women at the coastal part of the country. Consultants Sr Caroline Mbonu Sr Nkechi Iwuoha Angelo Izama Fr Stan Chu Ilo Sr Josee Ngalula Sr Angelique Namaika Sr Rosemary Nyirumbe Sr, Elizabeth Nduku. Bishop Hiiboro Kusala  

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