Wednesday, May 18, 2016
The concept of human dignity is one that has been central to Catholic thinking for centuries. This social teaching remains relevant today in our increasingly complex world. In the context of crime and exploitation, the American Catholic Bishops wrote the following in A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Social Justice (2000):
The fundamental starting point for all of Catholic social teaching is the defense of human life and dignity: every human person is created in the image and likeness of God and has an inviolable dignity, value, and worth, regardless of race, gender, class, or other human characteristics.
Indeed, just last month Rick reminded us of a conference at Notre Dame examining the intellectual appeal of human dignity as a concept.
A new online journal exploring these issues as they relate to exploitation and violence has just been founded by Donna Hughes at The University of Rhode Island, one of the leading world experts in the study of human trafficking . (Full disclosure, I am on the editorial board). The journal, entitled Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence, will focus on not only various forms of exploitation and violence, but also how they “harm the dignity and health of individuals, the integrity and security of communities, and the strength and character of nations.”
Here is an excerpt of the full description:
Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence is an open access, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal dedicated to publishing original scholarly articles on topics related to sexual exploitation, violence, and slavery. . . . The journal encourages investigations and discussion of challenges to dignity and justice such as corruption, lack of rule of law, harmful cultural practices, and laws and policies that justify and institutionalize inequality, violence and exploitation. The journal is a forum to examine how individuals, civil societies and states have responded to improve human and civil rights. Dignity aims to contribute to evidence-based knowledge and theoretical development of these topics to give people the tools to end sexual exploitation, violence, and slavery.
This journal has the potential to make a very positive contribution to scholarship, crossing not only disciplines, but also other social divisions to focus on the fundamental harm to human dignity so many forms of exploitation cause. At a time of extreme division on social issues, perhaps this can be a forum for finding common ground and ultimately contributing to a more robust protection of vulnerable people.
To that end the first call for papers has been issued.