Human trafficking in Southern Africa
In 2003, IOM's report, Seduction, Sale and Slavery: Trafficking in Women and Children for Sexual Exploitation in Southern Africa, identified Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi, and a number of refugee-producing countries as key source countries for women and children trafficked to South Africa. With its history of southward migration flows, instability, porous borders, and weak institutions and structures, Southern Africa is fertile ground for irregular migration, and hosts a diverse range of migrant smuggling and human trafficking activities. The region's young women and children are especially vulnerable to the recruitment tactics of human traffickers because civil unrest and economic deprivation leave them with few opportunities at home, making migration to South Africa, the region's most prosperous country, a credible and appealing lure. Without appropriate language skills, a supportive social network, and laws and customs that she understands, the trafficked person feels isolated and disoriented, and it is this feeling of disorientation that makes her particularly vulnerable to exploitation. IOM has recognised that there is a need to raise awareness about human trafficking and issues that increase vulnerability of migrant women, to sexual abuse, and encourage people to take action.
Human trafficking is the third fastest growing and most lucrative criminal industry, after arms and drugs trafficking. It is thought that human trafficking makes about $7 – 9.5 billion annually. In addition, because many countries do not have adequate anti-trafficking laws, there is little risk of prosecution, so it continues to be a thriving business.
Traffickers typically recruit through false advertisements for jobs in anything from modelling to waitressing to domestic or agricultural work. They typically arrange passage into the destination country or city through both legal and illegal means. Often, the trafficked person knows his/her trafficker – they may be a friend, relative, neighbour or other acquaintance.
Looking for more information about human trafficking in Southern Africa ? Visitthe website of the IOM’s Southern African Counter-Trafficking Assistance Programme (SACTAP)
What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking can be defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, or abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments of benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
- The United Nations (UN) Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children
What are some situations people who are trafficked fall into?
- Forced sex work (on the street, brothels, truck drivers)
- Sexual slavery, sexual abuse and/ or rape
- Disorientation and isolation
- Unwanted pregnancy
- Hard labour
- Forced domestic and cheap labour
- Physical and verbal abuse
- Unsafe living/ working conditions
- Work in illegal sweatshops
- Language issues, not being able to understand
- Abuse from support service, such as police, courts, social workers etc.
- Not knowing their legal rights in a foreign country
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