Sister Juliana Devoy, missionary and director of the Good Shepherd Center in Macau ask the government Wednesday to set up an international community that allows victims of human trafficking to have a recovery period of two to three months.
“We are asking the government to set up something like an international community, (…) to have a program that helps them reflect on what has happened to them and how they can think about something for their future,” she said on the sidelines of a press conference.
Since the center started activities, it has accommodated 62 girls trafficked into the SAR.
The Good Shepherd Center’s involvement in anti-trafficking activities began in 2008, a year after the human trafficking law was passed in Macau.
Sister Juliana Devoy said the center is trying to connect with organizations in mainland China or ministries in a bid to work together, with the hope of stopping human trafficking.
She also said that could be more cases of human trafficking in Macau than those that are reported.
Sister Juliana Devoy said that the problem stems from the government’s vague definition of what human trafficking is.
She said that most of the cases her centre gets are female minors coming from impoverished families in the mainland.
The United States (US), in its most recent annual Trafficking in Persons Report, continued to state the local government “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of (human) trafficking.”
She denied the report and said the Macau Government is doing a lot.
The US don’t know the local culture, she said.
During the press conference the Social Welfare Bureau point out that the numbers of trafficking victims has been in decline over the past five years.
Because of fears of not having any legal protection and potential retaliation, Devoy stresses that many people choose not to report similar cases, even those involving labour abuse.
The Good Shepherd Centre also announced its partnership with MGM Macau in an initiative to combat human trafficking and raise public awareness about the matter.
The Social Welfare Bureau has also previously teamed up with different institutions to provide counselling, shelter and support for victims of human trafficking, including with the Good Shepherd Centre.
The Macao Women’s General Association and the International Organization for Migration were also a part of this collaboration.
Meanwhile, Grant Bowie, CEO and executive director of MGM China, noted that the biggest challenge is how to break the stigma and encourage victims to come forward and share their stories.
“At this point in time, we’re still struggling to get these people to come forward. The great challenge is even if we support them and people don’t want to take our support, and even with the support of agencies, it’s difficult,” he told the press.
“People need to understand that they can be safe, they have rights and they have the ability to move forward. This is a sociological issue. We have many programs, we try to help as many people as we can,” he added.