Over 70 representatives from Finnish and Estonian churches, Christian organisations, non-governmental organisations and government ministries gathered 18-19 February 2008 in Helsinki and Tallinn to discuss the role of the churches in combating trafficking of human beings, the modern day slavery.
The keynote speaker of the seminar was Eva Biaudet, the OSCE special representative on combat against trafficking in human beings. The participants also discussed the theological, socio-ethical and political aspects of trafficking. Concrete examples on the work with women, children and men involved in prostitution and potential victims of trafficking were provided by Pro-Tukipiste in Helsinki and Atoll project in Tallinn. The seminar was concluded by the presentation of the task of the churches in combating trafficking.
The seminar What is the Price of a Human Being? was organised by the Finnish Ecumenical Council and the Estonian Council of Churches. The seminar took place in Helsinki in the Church of the Deaconess Institute and in Tallinn at the Bridgettine Convent of Pirita. The seminar introduced the new, two-year theme of the ecumenical week of global responsibility in Finland (Vastuuviikko, Ansvarsveckan).
We confess that as members of our churches and societies we have not opened our eyes to see the existence of human trafficking in our countries and the EU. Our choices as consumers perpetuate the injustices and personal tragedies in forced labor and prostitution.
We recognize human trafficking as a blatant violation of human rights and human dignity. We must see the enormous illegal profits gained by international organised crime and the immense human and social cost for our societies.
We urge our churches to speak of trafficking in their youth work, adult education, diaconia and sermons. Thus it will become morally impossible for us to support human trafficking as consumers or passively accept its existence. The churches need to speak with grace and truth: grace extended to victims instead of condemnation and the truth regarding the reality and horrors of trafficking.
We commit ourselves to creating an atmosphere of respect towards each other at our work, home, church and community. We want to work for a society free from the sexualisation of the public sphere and of the objectivication of the human being. The society needs to protect the victims and convict the perpetrators and clients.
The human being is the image of God and has priceless value.