ROME (AP) — Ivanka Trump met Wednesday with a group of African women in Rome who were trafficked into prostitution rings, a private encounter said to have moved her to tears.
Trump visited the Rome headquarters of the Sant’Egidio Community, a Catholic humanitarian organization that serves the poor, the elderly and migrants, after a morning visit to the Vatican.
Sant’Egidio official Daniela Pompei said the closed-door encounter lasted 40 minutes and Trump asked the 10 African women for suggestions on what the U.S. government, led by her father, President Donald Trump, can do to help others like them.
Trump, who serves as adviser to her father, “listened very carefully to all the stories, but she also asked some questions,” Pompei said after their guest had departed. Trump and others who heard the accounts “were moved to tears.”
“She asked what could be done on a government and legislative level, but also what could be done to stop human trafficking, especially of women,” Pompei said.
Trump told reporters before the meeting she was eager to meet these “remarkable women, who are testament to strength, faith, perseverance in the face of unspeakable adversity and challenge.”
Ivanka Trump has held meetings at the White House on human trafficking.
The women she met with Wednesday, most of them from Nigeria, have been freed from their traffickers. Some of them praised an Italian law that allows trafficked persons to receive residency permits if they denounce their traffickers and cooperate with investigative authorities, Sant’Egidio officials said.
Some of the prostitution rings operating in Italy are run by Nigerians or people of other nationalities, and officials noted that many of these women were sold from ring to ring, like slaves.
The officials said Ivanka Trump was keenly interested to learn about the law.
Pompei said Trump also told the women that Pope Francis “is an advocate for your stories” of suffering, referring to the pontiff’s oft-made appeals to nations to do more to fight human traffickers.
Later, Ivanka Trump tweeted she was “inspired to visit Sant’Egidio and learn about their remarkable work with survivals of human trafficking and with those still suffering.”
In the evening, the news service of the pontifical academies of sciences and social sciences tweeted that in a visit to the Vatican institution, Ivanka Trump signed a declaration from the pope and other religious leaders affirming in God’s name that human trafficking is a crime against humanity.
Frances D’Emilio can be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/fdemilio
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