human trafficking stats video

So, in the Lost Generation post we did a couple of days ago, we lamented the fact that there just arent that many great anti trafficking campaign videos online. Well, we are afraid we will have to eat humble pie for a while 🙂 . One of our facebook fans (actually, we like to call them modern day abolitionists), Jan Hutchinson, posted a link to an A21 Campaign video and its ‘exactly what the  Doctor ordered’ . The videos are really high quality and tell a great anti trafficking story. Will be linking/embedding the videos over the next couple of weeks on this blog.  Here is one on trafficking in persons statistics. Kudos to the A21 Campaign:


when human trafficking blurs borders

We like to think of ourselves as a Southern African organisation. While the idea to form an anti-trafficking organisation was hatched in Zimbabwe, the plan has always been to build a truly regional organisation-and we are alreay taking very significant steps to this regard. This is because human trafficking by its nature is largely trans-national. Efforts to combat and prevent it are therefore only going to be successful, if they are located trans-nationally. When South Africa establishes a hotline to fight trafficking during the 2010 World Cup and the other SADC countries do nothing to compliment this effort, the hotline may not be fully effective. People who may be trafficked during the football showcase will not just find themselves in South Africa, traffickers use routes that cross various national borders as confirmed by this Institute of Security Studies report. In the same regard, when Mozambique commendably promulgates anti trafficking legislation other SADC countries should follow suit if the legislation is to significantly dent human trafficking activities within the region.

the scourge of human trafficking

the scourge of human trafficking

SAAHTT therefore endeavors to annex most of its activities at the SADC level. This will ensure a coordinated and concerted effort to combat trafficking.   This means that human trafficking arguably largely involves the crossing of borders. This should not be misconstrued to mean that all human trafficking incidences involve the crossing of borders.

Indeed significant human trafficking occurs internally-within national borders. This form of trafficking may involve families in rural areas sending children to relatives in the urban areas to work as domestic workers. With very poor working conditions and in most cases negligible incomes. This constitutes human trafficking within national borders. In some instances it follows normal rural-urban migratory patterns-where a relative may suggest that a girl child in the rural areas can find employment in the urban areas. The girl child may move to the urban area only to find that the job that was referred to is commercial sex work (commercial sex slavery is more apt a term) which, incidentally, the relative in question also does.

But, as already highlighted above, trafficking in persons also plays out across national borders. There is considerable trafficking in persons that occurs within the Southern Africa and examples have been give on this blog. What really drove us to put up this post is the complexity of human trafficking. SAAHTT is a regional anti-trafficking organisation working in Southern Africa. But how does the organisation deal with cases where people from Southern Africa are trafficked to European countries? Does SAAHTT have an interest in these cases and what role can it play?There are answers to these questions but they belong to another post 🙂

Most of the human trafficking cases that have found their way into mainstream media involve Africans being trafficked to Europe/America/Middle East. As an example, Tanzanians were recently arrested for trafficking in Britian in a case linked to the plight of a Tanzanian domestic worker.  More recently twenty durban men were trafficked to the United Arab Emirates after they were made to believe that they were being recruited to be taxi drivers with salaries of R25 ooo a month only to discover when they got there that they would get R450 a month and had their passports confiscated. More on this story in the next post.

Please leave comments on posts.

Lost Generation

We have not been doing any video blogs of late on this blog. This is largely because of the fact that the anti human trafficking videos that you find online are not as unique as we think they should. The onus is therefore on SAAHTT do develop really cool videos that appeal to a wider cross section of people and succinctly convey the message of the scourge of human trafficking. And here we are not talking of gruesome videos but videos and presos like the ones we have posted here and here. Well, we have found one such ‘cool and unique’ (thats the best we can think of in terms of describing these types of videos) video on youtube. This is not a trafficking in persons video. Without pre-emptying the video content-it basically innovatively challenges the today’s generation to do something worthwhile. And while there is no specific reference to combating human trafficking. It remains relevant and poignant nonetheless. Credit goes to the person who created this.PS: You have to watch it past the half-mark to get it.

South Africa addresses human trafficking in advance of Soccer World Cup

Trafficking in Persons, as Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, is a real ‘scourge’ of our time and is generally referred to as ‘Modern Day Slavery’. It is difficult to comprehend that in this day and age slavery still exists; that people are bought and sold and transported all over the world. Yet, it has been suggested that slavery is more common now than at any time in world history and that hardly any country is untouched by it. Due to the underground nature of trafficking, there are no official records of trafficked persons, therefore, estimates vary widely. Some estimate that there are 27 million in slavery worldwide; that approximately 800 000 people are trafficked across national borders.

This does not include the millions trafficked within their own country. Child trafficking is said to be on the increase. The United Nations estimates that child-trafficking alone generates 7 to10 billion US dollars annually for traffickers. It cites trafficking in persons as the second most lucrative crime around the world next to the drug trade and that 30% of trafficking victims are below the age of 18.

Trends in trafficking in and to South Africa

In South Africa, trafficking in persons is both a trans-national crime as well as a crime that takes place within the borders of the country. It has become a source, destination and transit country for trafficking in persons as it is perceived in and outside the continent as the economic giant in Africa offering many opportunities. People are trafficked for many reasons including for labour and sexual exploitation. Trafficking is further spurred by an increasing sex tourism. There is evidence that children are trafficked for a number of reasons – for labour and sexual exploitation; to be beggars, street vendors, housebreakers and drug runners. However, statistics on trafficking are not easily available as information reported to the police is captured under alternative charges such as racketeering, abduction, or organised crime.

The primary factors that facilitate trafficking in persons are, as we hear so often: poverty, family breakdown, gender discrimination, culture, HIV/AIDS, war, natural disasters and political instability, ignorance and demand. Other factors include weak laws and corruption and migration.

Despite significant efforts made by the South African Government to combat trafficking in persons (ratification of the Palermo Protocol and progress on developing a national plan of action to deal with the problem) the country has been placed on the “Tier 2 Watch List” by the US Department of Trafficking in Persons ,for the past four years. This is because South Africa has not met the minimum standards, laid down by the Palermo Protocol, needed to eliminate trafficking. It has been unable to provide data on trafficking crimes which have been investigated or prosecuted, because they have been placed under other offences. It is hoped , however, that the anti-trafficking in persons legislation bill will be in place by the end of 2009. Important moves have been taken on different fronts.

From 25 – 29 March 2009, I did attend the National Conference on Human Trafficking , held at the Elangeni in Durban. The Conference was organized by the SOCA Unit of the NPA. The Unit has formed a “Trafficking in Persons Intersectorial Task Team”, which includes : the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development; Home Affairs; Labour; Social Development; SAPS; IOM; UNODC and the NGO MOLO SONGOLOLO. The Department of Health , Correctional Services, Education and the national Treasury are also represented in the partnership. This is an important move towards a holistic approach to fighting the crime. Besides a National Task Team being formed, each Province will be asked to establish a regional task team on a similar basis. KZN has already led the way. It has also been announced recently that the Legislation Bill will soon be in the Gazette for public debate. The Conference was funded by the EU who have given 6.3 million euros to assist the SOCA unit of the NPA to put the resolutions of the meeting in place.

Internal and External Trafficking

South Africa shares borders with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland. It has 72 official ports of entry “and a number of unofficial ports of entry where people come in and out without being detected” along it’s 5 000km-long land borderline. The problem of porous borders is compounded by the lack of adequately trained employees, resulting in few police officials controlling large portions of the country’s coastline. Countries with reported trafficking links with South Africa include Angola; Botswana; Congo, Democratic Republic; Congo, Republic; Lesotho; Mozambique; Malawi; Namibia; Swaziland; Tanzania; Zimbabwe; Zambia. Known links with Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Swaziland are often highlighted at workshops.

Trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation is a significant problem in Southern Africa

Women seeking refugee status in South Africa from other African countries are trafficked by refugees already living there. Mozambican girls and young women are trafficked into major cities. An estimated 1000 Mozambican girls are trafficked to Johannesburg each year and sold as sex slaves or as wives to the Mozambican mine workers. Young women have been trafficked from Thailand and China to South Africa. When identified by police in South Africa victims of trafficking are deported as illegal immigrants. Victims are afraid of law enforcement and do not trust the police to assist them. South Africa has no public services specifically designed to assist victims of trafficking. . Trafficking in South Africa appears to be closely linked with the highly sophisticated global sex industry.

Trafficking and Major Events

It has been argued that there are at least two ways in which international sporting events can affect human trafficking. Firstly it can contribute to a short-term increase in demand for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation in and around the event. Secondly, it can facilitate the entry of trafficked persons as “visitors” before they are transited to other cities or countries where they are exploited.

Concerns around 2010 FIFA World Cup

The upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup (FWC) in South Africa which is expected to generate more than $4 billion, the highest revenue in World Cup history, raises various concerns about the possible increase in the abuse, exploitation and trafficking in persons especially children during the games; that it will provide opportunities for abusers, exploiters and traffickers to meet the perceived increased demand for cheap labour and sexual services.

At a meeting in September last year , organized by Molo Songololo , it was said that during June and July of 2010 South Africa will host the 2010 FWC. 32 teams will arrive 2 to 3 weeks prior to the tournament and then, during a period of 43 days, an estimated 2.7 million local spectators will view 64 matches played in 9 cities around the country. It is also said that there will be an estimated 350 000 to 500 000 visitors to the country. It is estimated that 20 million fans will be watching the games on big screens at fan parks across the country. The 9 cities where the event will take place include: Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Bloemfontein, Rustenberg, Pretoria, Johannesburg, Nelspruit and Polokwane. Major concerns were raised among us, some of which included:

– South Africa is planning to introduce visa-free travel across southern Africa in time for the 2010 WFC with the purpose of promoting tourism and freer business travel and trade in the region. Relaxing of visa requirements for travel in the SADC region could contribute to potential risks of increased migration that could include trafficking.

– recruitment of young women and children from rural areas for exploitation in the major Host Cities.

– children may make their own way to the cities in a desire to be part of festivities, which could render them vulnerable to exploitation.

– An increase in child labour could result from parents sending their children to the street to beg for money from tourists or children being recruited to sell paraphernalia. Tourists may also lack information regarding the trafficking of children for purposes of child labour which may exacerbate the problem. The event could lead to an increase in need for cheap labour, and opportunities for petty crime and begging. The increase in demand for domestic work may lead to girls being recruited from rural areas.

– An increase in the demand for sexual services.-and this demand will be filled by trafficked victims. Trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation was noted as an already significant problem in Southern Africa.

– An increase in organized crime. The fact that gangs and organized crime syndicates are already operating in the country, with concerns that these criminal groups are targeting children in order to fulfil the perceived increase in demand for prostitution and drugs which the event is expected to bring.

– The fact that the schools will be closed during the 2010 FWC has been identified as potential risk factor as this will lead to a sharp increase in the number of unattended children.

– Unmet demand for cheap labour

– Demand for sexual services for example linked to tourism development.

– Changes in the economy, which has increased the demand for cheap labour.

– Demand from certain types of men for sex with children.

Overall, Poverty, high unemployment and lack of opportunity – the quest for a means of survival –are listed as ultimately the engine driving trafficking in human persons.

Children identified to be most “at risk”

Various reports by Molo Songololo emphasise that In recent years there has been and increase in the number of trafficking in children cases identified. These cases include trafficking in children for purposes of sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, abduction and removal of organs. As trafficking networks in the region are already reported as a risk, external trafficking, particularly within the region, has a very strong likelihood of increasing in expectation of economic gain around the event. While all children may be vulnerable to trafficking, there are certain groups that can be considered more vulnerable than others. This is largely because many of them lack awareness around the dangers of trafficking. Economic vulnerability is, as already mentioned , a major cause, exacerbated by emotional reality and previous abuse. Children on the street are particularly vulnerable. Most at risk include unattended children, street children, and refugee children, lost children are all vulnerable and at risk of exploitation and trafficking. The WFC event could also attract paedophiles who can easily disguise their purpose within the event.

In the year 2000, Molo Songololo already estimated a figure of around 30 000 child prostitutes in South Africa. As is highlighted above, concerns and debates surrounding the impact of sporting events appear to be centred around the issue of demand. More specifically, the concern is based on the argument that a temporary gathering of persons in a setting such as the World Cup will lead to an increase in demand for sexual services and this demand will be filled by trafficking victims.

The Counter Trafficking in Persons Desk of the Catholic Church in South Africa

This Desk was set up in January 2008 by the Leadership Conference of Consecrated Religious (LCCL)(SA) and the Southern African Catholic bishops’ Conference (SACBC). Because of the ignorance of many around the whole issue of trafficking in persons one of its major tasks has been that of awareness raising. To this end a number of workshops have been conducted around the country. Capacity building programs have also been conducted in various dioceses so that those trained continue the awareness raising and prevention campaign in parishes and among the wider community in their areas. To this end also much resource material has been produced.

2010 campaign

Of late we have been discussing certain activities that are within our scope to make every effort to reduce the level of trafficking in persons around 2010 and beyond. We have learned of the ‘Red Card’ Campaign in Germany which was a great success in reducing the level of trafficking in persons there in 2006. We wish to do something similar and produce material to be distributed to hotels, internet, TV and newspaper advertisements .

South Africa is planning to take direction from Germany and erect Fan Parks in every 2010 FWC host city during 2010 FWC. Fan Parks are enclosed public viewing areas (PVAs) where all matches will be shown live on big screens with live entertainment and DJ’s entertainment between matches. In addition to these and other official Fan Parks, bars restaurants and shopping malls across South Africa will also set up commercial viewing areas for fans. In our planning special attention will also be paid to the nine Host Cities which will host matches as part of the 2010 FWC, noting main stadiums at which matches will be played, as well as the training venues and official fan parks that can be regarded as significant areas around which much activity for the event will centre.

What tourists and visitors need to be aware of:

– Visitors need to be made aware that South Africa is a ‘hotspot’ for human trafficking.
– Tourists and visitors need to be aware of the expectations of those who come from desperately poor circumstances, viewing 2010 as an opportunity to improve their members’ economic conditions. These people are vulnerable. As there will be a natural attraction to the Host Cities to be part of the celebrations vulnerable people are open to exploitation.
– Tourists may also lack information regarding the trafficking of children for purposes of child labour and sexual exploitation.
– Prostitution is illegal in South Africa. However, very often traffickers intermingle trafficked girls among local prostitutes.
– Street children are particularly vulnerable to abuse.

How you can help

– Awareness raising

Many are not sensitized to the reality of human trafficking around the globe. Target possible visitors to SA finding ways to circulate information about the reality of human trafficking in Southern Africa and how the poor and destitute in the SADC region are used and abused and deprived of their human dignity.

– Support the efforts of the Counter Trafficking Desk in producing material for its 2010 campaign to protect our people, especially women and children against being trafficked.

Sr Melanie O’ Connor is the Co-ordinator of the Counter Trafficking in Persons Desk for the Conference of Catholic Bishops of South Africa.

Human Trafficking not a crime in Botswana

Greg Kelebonye


Police in Botswana cannot charge any person for “human trafficking” and the courts cannot adjudicate over such cases. This is because Botswana does not have legislation that acknowledges and criminalises human trafficking.

Considered as the most “mysterious, the most difficult to investigate and the most easily overlooked criminal act by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), human trafficking could be thriving in Botswana as a result, analysts say. There have been signs that the crime is growing in Botswana. For example, in 2007 the Philippines Bureau of Immigration arrested a Motswana, Peter Lucky, who was suspected of being a member of an international human trafficking ring.

He was expelled from the country soon after his arrest and declared a prohibited immigrant. Police’s Diamond and Narcotics Squad had interrogated many suspects, among them businessmen, police officers and labour consultants, in connection with a large-scale human trafficking network in Botswana.  The suspects were believed to be part of an organised human trafficking ring that ferried people from Bangladesh and Pakistan into Botswana and neighbouring South Africa. At the time the investigations were launched the police were said to have broken a number of organised cells, which had been using Botswana as a destination and transit for trafficked persons. So serious is the issue of human trafficking that it has become a regular agenda item for Botswana Police Annual Senior Officer’s retreats.

However, the police find themselves powerless to deal with this ever growing international threat, as the Penal Code does not recognise it.  And investigation of such cases is a nightmare for police, who while they clearly can identify a case of human trafficking are unable to charge the perpetrators with the crime.

“As the police we have dealt with cases involving the acquisition of people by improper means such as use of force, deception and, illegal transfer of these people.

The perpetrators were charged with a range of crimes from illegal entry to abduction,” police spokesperson Dipheko Motube told Mmegi. Motube said some of the perpetrators merely paid the P1, 000 admission of guilt fee – a far cry from penalties that can include long prison sentences and hefty fines in countries that have criminalised the illicit trade. UNODC says in its 2009 Report that about 2.7 million people worldwide were victims of human trafficking and were engaged in [forced] prostitution, begging, or high intensity labour in tough conditions. Among the number were 1.2 million children. The human trafficking business meanwhile reached up to $32 billion (P214 billion). “Virtually every country in the world is affected by these crimes. The challenge for all countries, rich and poor, is to target the criminals who exploit desperate people and to protect and assist victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants, many of whom endure unimaginable hardships in their bid for a better life, ” the UNODC says on its website.

What Moves You?

a little boy is rescued from Haiti earthquake rubble

a little boy is rescued from Haiti earthquake rubble

People have long been moved by emotion, empathy-the capacity to feel for another. This characteristic was/is no more evident than during the rescue and relief efforts post Haiti earthquake. Hundreds of volunteers with international aid and non-governmental organisations were mobilised within days and bgan the arduous task of rescuing and providing relief to survivors of the devastating earthquake. Musicians, actors and other celebrities of international acclaim organised a ‘Hope for Haiti Now’ telethon-a fundraising event where they performed and received telephone donations-to contribute funds to the Haiti relief effort. This effort alone raised over US$57 million and it is understood that donations to Haiti relief have reached over US$ 500 million. So people are moving by tragedy. This was also evident during the devastation of New Orleans and other parts of America by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or the havoc wreaked by the Tsunami in Asia. People are moved by tragedy-the need to help those who are not in a position to help themselves -the need to assist those ravaged by natural disasters or pandemics.

SAAHTT, and other modern day abolitionists like Aaron Cohen, is moved by the Haiti earthquake tragedy as well. But beyond that, SAAHTT is moved by the increased vulnerability to trafficking of orphaned children in Haiti. SAAHTT is concerned by the ongoing undercover tragedy that is hidden from public sight and mainstream media channels like CNN and BBC. This is the tragedy of human trafficking in Haiti. There are no gruesome images that provide evidence of its occurence. But it is regrettably occuring nonetheless. The earthquake in Haiti has resulted in the disintegration of families and the total destruction of livelihoods. There is limited governance and social safety nets have all but collapsed. In addition, hundreds of children have been orphaned and are not secure. Traffickers are now taking advantage of the chaos in Haiti post the earthquake to prey on victims who are vulnerable and without hope. There are reports that traffickers are snatching children from hospitals and trafficking them. Ther are also cases were traffickers attempt to adopt orphaned children. Besides these incidents that have been reported, there is also increased vulnerability of Haitians who risk continued human rights violations and trafficking as the country is likely to take years to be rebuilt.

a survivor of the Haiti earthquake

a survivor of the Haiti earthquake

There is a need for increased vigilance by aid organisations and the US Army present in Haiti in terms of safeguarding victims particularly orphaned children. There is need for the continued presence of aid and non-governmental organisations in Haiti to ensure that aid efforts gradually shift from relief efforts to efforts that seek to rebuild the country thereby providing opportunities for Haitians to rebuild their livelihoods-this minimises the risk to trafficking. There is also a need for the mainstream media to uncover this human travesty called human trafficking that is occuring in Haiti hidden from the glare of cameras and news anchors. And lastly there is something you can do also-go here to see how u can help victims of the Haiti earthquake. It is heartening to note that the US State Department and UNICEF have already stepped up efforts to protect vulnerable children, partciularly orphans, from being trafficked.

Salvation Army to fight human trafficking during World Cup

Ok, so in the last couple of posts we have tended to do a lot of aggregation and writing on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the potential upsurge in human trafficking in the region. But this has been necessitated by the grave concerns on human trafficking during the global football showpiece. The article below by Issa Sikita da Silva from BizCommunity is interesting and allows SAAHTT an opportunity to publicise the toll free number set up by the Salvation Army that we talked about in the previous post.

Salvation Army, Be Heard to eradicate 2010 human trafficking

By: Issa Sikiti da Silva

Africa’s human trafficking, which is at its peak as the 2010 FIFA World Cup draws near, looks like an ‘incurable disease’ due to the complexities of the situation – South Africa’s lack of legislation, economic vulnerability, victims’ determination to seek their fortune, ‘corrupt’ immigration officials, syndicates’ reckless methods, porous borders and inadequate funding.

Some observers wonder how the Salvation Army and its partner Be Heard, which have stepped up their anti-human trafficking campaign and recently launched a 24-hour toll free hotline, will manage in such a complicated environment.

But Marieke Venter, of the Salvation Army’s central division, is adamant her organisation will do whatever it can to stop what she called ‘new slavery’, and save lives despite various challenges.

“We already have a couple of billboards erected here and there, and we will soon launch an aggressive media campaign on TV, radio and print, which we hope will create an ultimate awareness,” Venter said this week.

An ongoing investigation reveals that trafficked people, nicknamed ‘livestock’ by syndicates, are sometimes dumped in and around Johannesburg and Pretoria (in front of churches, pubs and recreation centres, where there is a large concentration of foreigners), in the hope that a good Samaritan will spot them and help out.

A victim, who asked not to be identified, said: “I was a house builder and bricklayer back home and have three children, but this guy came and duped me into coming to SA, saying his connections will get me a well-paying job at one of these 2010 construction sites.

The man, who is now a hawker, allegedly paid him US$1500 (R12000).

The man also alleges that single and good-looking women in the group are taken away by ‘agents’ – nobody knows where – and women with children are abandoned.

“How can human beings become like commodities that can be sold in the open market,” Venter asked.

The Salvation Army has recently opened a shelter for victims of human trafficking in Pretoria.

Members of the public are urged to report cases of human trafficking on +27 (0) 8007 37283 (+27 (0) 8000-rescue), a number that will be operated by Be Heard, a division of Quiver Corporate Solutions.

Brian Adams, Quiver CEO, said: “We are glad to help for free and we hope this vital initiative will encourage people to speak out against this bad social behaviour.”

However, the call centre must not fulfill people’s expectations as members of the public can only report in eight SA languages – a problem Adams attributes to lack of funding to recruit staff who speak French, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Russian or Swahili.

“For now, this is the best we can do. But as soon as we get funds, we will definitely roll out the project in other languages.”

The Salvation Army is calling on the government to pass legislation as soon as possible so that human traffickers can be detained and prosecuted.

It is believed that a draft bill on human trafficking is being discussed in parliament.

Report human trafficking on +27 (0) 800 073 7283.