The people of Thailand have welcomed Pope Francis with joy and with the deep spirit of hospitality and respect that is so engrained in their culture.
Pope Francis began his time in Thailand by denouncing the exploitation, and enslavement of women and children and violence in all forms. He also called for a greater welcome and hospitality for migrants and encouraged interfaith dialogue between Buddhists and Christians.
It is well-recognized that forced prostitution, including such abuse against children, is one of the consequences of Thailand’s sex tourism industry, with thousands of foreigners including tourists, arriving to pay for sex each year. Thailand is one of the world’s foremost destinations for sex tourism with minors. This is an anomaly given prostitution is banned by law in Thailand. It is understood that most of the children being abused are from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos who have fallen in with networks that traffic human beings.
The 82 year old pontiff travels from Thailand to Japan in coming days.
As women committed to welcoming and supporting refugees and continuing efforts to combat human trafficking in all its forms, let us give thanks for the prophetic leadership of Pope Francis and be courageous and generous in heeding his call to follow the example of Jesus by honouring the God-given dignity of each and every person.