Contemporary Abolitionist of the Month: Raimi Vincent Parasio
By Katie Masi
The fight to end slavery is rooted in history and extends until today. Each month we profile some of the brave men and women, both contemporary and historical, who have fought to eradicate slavery. Our contemporary abolitionist of the month is Raimi Vincent Parasio.
Raimi Vincent Parasio works with government and non-government officials to combat sex and labor trafficking in the Republic of the Congo. He serves as the coordinator of ALTO Africa Children, a Pointe-Noire based NGO founded by the Beninese living in the Congo. ALTO identifies Beninese children who have been trafficked and exploited in Congo, finds them foster families, and provides support for the children. When able, ALTO organizes repatriation to the children’s countries of origin and ensures their protection.
Parasio worked with the Congolese and Beninese governments to create an action plan to combat child trafficking. At the 2011 signing of the Congo-Benin anti-trafficking cooperation agreement, UNICEF Representative in the Republic of the Congo Marianne Flach said, “The bilateral agreement is a major step in the recognition and in the fight against child trafficking and exploitation with the signing of the agreement, a framework is now in place to assist the two countries to prevent, identify and assist child trafficking victims as well as to prosecute offenders.”
Because of his endeavors to identify and assist victims, Beninese traffickers in Pointe-Noire have threatened and committed violence against Parasio and his family. But that hasn’t stopped Parasio’s commitment to combating all forms of trafficking. Each year he identifies and aids more and more survivors.
Parasio, in partnership with the Congolese government and his colleagues in ALTO, identified fifty-seven victims of trafficking in 2011. He collaborated with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Humanitarian Action and law enforcement officials to protect the survivors. He traveled with a number of children to assist in their repatriation to Benin.
Raimi Vincent Parasio is a strong advocate for victims of human trafficking and a source of information for government officials, NGO workers, and international organizations to better coordinate efforts to combat trafficking. As Parasio demonstrates, combating human trafficking requires a collaborative, multi-sector and victim-centered approach.
We need leaders to come together across diverse sectors to dismantle the business of human trafficking by increasing the risks for perpetrators, decreasing the profits, and increasing resources for anti-trafficking policies. For more information, see our blueprint, “How to Dismantle the Business of Human Trafficking.”