European Baptists Intensify their Struggle Against Human Trafficking
C o p e n h a g e n – The European Baptist Federation (EBF) intends to intensify its struggle against human trafficking. At a conference in Copenhagen in late October entitled: “Out of Hidden Rooms – From Slavery to Hope”, 55 experts from 19 countries discussed practical possibilities for the future. It was proposed for example, that local congregations and national Baptist unions become more strongly involved. Two staff members are to be hired for an interim period with a mandate to awaken awareness in all European Baptist unions for this concern. Baptists also intend that 18 October, the day designated by the European Union as “Anti-Human Trafficking Day”, become a more central place in congregational life. A first step will involve an EBF-information brochure on the topic.
The Stockholm police detective Jonas Trolle reported on police efforts to combat trafficking there. He described it as challenging to truly assist the victims of human traffickers. At least Swedish law does come to the aid of the police. Swedish law regards prostitutes as victims and men who avail them of their services are liable for prosecution. The Danish counsellor Vibeke Möller (Copenhagen) pointed out that involuntary prostitutes are often traumatised following their release. Special training is necessary in order to be of help to them. Secure and trust-instilling surroundings are also vital – and then recovery is possible. Belief in God has proven to be helpful. Vibeke Möller is Director of the “The International School of (Sexual) Abuse- Related Pastoral Counselling”. The head of the EBF’s Anti-Trafficking Work Group, the Swedish Baptist Pastor Sven Gunnar Liden (Stockholm), introduced a study on the differing national legislation in Europe on prostitution. His seminar was entitled, “It’s a Man’s World.” Conference participants expressed approval for the Swedish model which prosecutes men visiting prostitutes rather than the prostitutes themselves. The Scottish theology lecturer Dr. Marion Carson (Glasgow) spoke on the topics of “Brokenness”, “The Body” and “Hope”.
Discussions showed that in some countries social projects to aid trafficking victims are reporting initial success. A pastor from Moldova described how that he had rescued girls from an orphanage after learning that they were being sold into forced prostitution. Hungarian Baptist Aid has a home for women who have escaped from prostitution. Such projects are in the planning stage in some countries. Vienna Baptists are planning to found an aid society, “Herzwerk”, with the aim of demonstrating God’s love in word and deed to prostitutes.