How Sr. Cecilia Espenilla, OP single handedly conquered the hearts and minds of the UN in Vienna

Human trafficking: How demand creates supply
Human trafficking: How demand creates supply

Friday the 26th of May was a very good day for the Dominican presence at the U.N. in Vienna. At the commission on crime prevention and criminal justice, NGOs have the possibility to organize a side event (50 minutes long). They invite speakers and present a topic in front of the countries delegations and other NGOs. I met Sr. Cecilia Espenilla at the conference of the Order on human rights last year in Salamanca. Although we only talked for a few minutes I could not forget the passion she had for her work against human trafficking. When we decided on a topic for our first side event Sr. Cecilia and her work were the obvious choice. Our second speaker was Rory Field, the vice president of the International Association of Prosecutors, a long serving public prosecutor. The Government of Finland also supported our event.

During her 25-minute speech Sr. Cecilia raised awareness about human trafficking, the exploitation of women and children and the problematic coherence of demand and supply in the fight against trafficking in persons. Her authentic style of presentation, gained through the work with the victims of such heinous crimes, she immediately won the audience’s attention. In a different style but not less interesting was Rory Fields presentation on how prosecutors experience the fight against human trafficking and traffickers. With the video of Sweetie, a 10-year-old Philippine girl completely computer animated we ended our side event. She is used to hunt pedophiles in online chat rooms. After the side event, we had the chance to talk to members of the audience, exchange business cards and talk about different projects and possibilities of working together with other NGOs and countries. 

On a side note, after the word got around that there is a Philippine sister around, employees of the U.N. (mostly from the Philippines) kept showing up at our lunch table asking for pictures and to exchange a few words with our own people's magnet. 


(13 June 2017)