A prisoner dying of dysentery at the Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald peers out from his bunk in April 1945 upon the liberation of the camp by Allied troops. (Photo: AFP)
Weimar is a city in central Germany that has had a glorious history marred by a terrible past. It is a small city where respect for and promotion of human rights are celebrated and rewarded.
On International Human Rights Day, the city presents the prestigious Weimar Human Rights Award to those recognized and lauded for their commitment and work in defending and promoting the rights of the people most vulnerable and at risk of rights violations around the world.This year, two courageous women from Africa — Laila Fakhouri of Sahrawi, Western Sahara, and Ihsan Fagiri from Sudan — received the award. Fakhouri works for the liberation of Western Sahara from occupation by Morocco, while Fagiri is a women’s rights activist.Weimar is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the award and invited back previous winners, including myself, to speak on human rights. We talked about the expansion of the greatest form of human rights violations after war — human trafficking and modern human enslavement. The greatest historical achievement of Weimar was the cultural heritage formed during a period of enlightenment, and the creation of brilliant literature, music and political progress in the 19th century.
Slavery and abuse continue today in many more countries.In Myanmar, the Rohingya people are suffering genocide and former human rights defender Aung San Suu Kyi, in a statement at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, has turned to support the military against accusations of genocide.The sale of human beings by traffickers into sex slavery is an atrocious rights violation. This kind of slavery is not the same as human exploitation of the past, but it is very much with us today in our world, and it is greater than it ever was.Sex tourism and online child sexual exploitation are contributing to the expanding sex trade. This insidious form of human trafficking is evil because it is aided, abetted and approved by the government itself in the case of the Philippines. The state gives permits, earns money and supports the sex industry and thereby encourages and accelerates human trafficking.Every town has a red-light district with sex bars operating with business permits and licenses issued by the mayor. It is a huge earner of revenue for a town or city.The human traffickers act with impunity and force a steady supply of vulnerable, impoverished and needy young girls from the poorest of provinces and city slums into prostitution.Prostitution is illegal in the Philippines and yet hundreds of thousands are trafficked and sexually exploited in the commercial sex industry.
Irish Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of ucanews.