Statement by H.E. Ambassador Katalin Bogyay Permanent Representative at the Special Interactive CSW Panel on theThe Role of the Arts in Helping to End Human Trafficking on 23 March 2016.
Good afternoon, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very honored to be invited to speak here today, at this event, which focuses on the role of arts in helping to end human trafficking.
Art can empower us to be daring, to be bold in confronting issues and crises.
Art and poetry can save us, because I cannot think of a stronger transformative force, which reveals to us, through the medium of words and allegories, our interconnectedness with mother nature.
Poetry and art can save us, because through them we can transform ourselves into compassionate beings.
Art can save us because it can open up our minds through the use of metaphor to animate and popularize an idea, a vision, and understanding of their world.
Poets who embrace the power of their language and imagery for the benefit of humanity can move mountains and topple walls, both figuratively and literally.
Art can save us because it elucidates a path towards peaceful coexistence. Art can teach us much about those who belong to different cultural or ethnic groups, their values and their dreams. It is therefore an open door for dialogue and understanding between peoples.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have always regarded poetry, like scientific enquiry, or musical experience and art as an alternative way of discovering truth.
Poetry and art have got the power to unite people across cultural and national borders. We must reformulate human relationship to nature so as to nourish our shared existence in the world with meaning and values, as well as the sustainability of our development needs.
We must consolidate the processes of emancipation against all forms of oppression in order to progress towards the eradication of political, economic, social and cultural exclusion.
We must promote greater awareness of education as a method of transmission of knowledge and respect in the shaping of conscience, and the evolution of societies towards social justice, the fight against the erosion of values and the fragmentation of knowledge and identity, and for the sharing of benefits of development.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The movie “SOLD” tells the shocking story of Lakshmi, this lovely rural Nepali girl with beautiful eyes trafficked to a brothel in Kolkata, India. But we have to be aware that the problem the filmmakers and the award-winning author of the original novel, Patricia McCormick deal with is not only an Indian or Nepalese one.
It is terrible to acknowledge, but modern slavery and human trafficking are very common even in 2016. According to the estimates it affects between 20 and 36 million women, men and children across the globe.
Modern slavery and human trafficking can be found in every part of our world. While the number of modern slaves is the highest in Asia, millions of all nationalities, among them many Hungarians, are trafficked and fall victim to different forms of modern slavery on an everyday basis.
I could mention the child slaves working in mines and cocoa fields, the young girls and women enslaved by Boko Haram and ISIL; the Hungarian Roma and non-Roma women and girls trafficked to Western European countries to work in the sex industry; the Hungarian men found in the UK working 16 hours every day for 10 pounds in a bed making factory whose owner has been jailed just last month for 2 years and three months; the domestic servants next door, working under terrible conditions and often subjected to abuse; the forced beggars in Paris and in many countries; and the list could be continued.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As many of you know, the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development – in its Target 8.7 – calls for the eradication of forced labor and ending modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030.
The size and complexity of the problem requires partnerships among all key players and stakeholders. Strengthened coordination among the relevant UN agencies, increased cooperation and effective partnerships with the private sector, civil society and religious actors will all be necessary.
Raising global awareness of this problem is crucial. Art – just like media – educates us.
Novels, poems, paintings, theatre plays, music, dance or movies can all educate not only the individual, but even whole societies.
Art is able to engage and mobilize people, in particular the youth, to fight for certain good causes.
Art can also have a preventive function. The informed individual being aware of specific dangers will more likely make the right decision, say “no” when needed, and thus stay safe.
In addition, we shall not forget that art can also be utilized to help heal trauma. Some of the most common forms of art therapy include drawing, painting, photography and poetry. Art therapy can help trafficking survivors by providing them with a way to express their feelings and stories in a non-invasive way. Once they feel more stable, they can begin to rebuild their lives.
As the great German playwright Bertolt Brecht once said “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.”
I would like to applaud Director Jeffrey Brown and his colleagues, in particular the brilliant actresses and actors of the movie, for being ready to grab that heavy hammer. I am sure that the movie they made will be successful in “shaping reality” through spreading global awareness and raising substantial funds for organizations, which rescue, rehabilitate and empower survivors.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our great Hungarian composer Béla Bartók said in the 2oth century:
“My guiding philosophy has always been the idea of different nations uniting into brotherhood, in spite of all the wars and hostility. I have tried to serve the aims of this idea, as best as I can in my music! So for that reason I do not shrink away from any influences.”
This way of thinking is very relevant to the UN, to all the member states. We have to play our part. I am ready for it.
I see our world as a global cultural space, a multi-layered treasure, a magic box full of undiscovered jewels. The process of inspiration followed by the creativity of people working together is, to me, the most beautiful aspect of this varied cultural space.
I will end my speech with the last sentence of the movie:
“Together let’s shine a light to end human trafficking”.