There has been considerable press coverage and spotlight on the potential upsurge in human trafficking throughout southern Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup spectacle in South Africa which runs from 11 June to 11 July. This has led to numerous blog posts, news articles and other commendable action-oriented initiatives which have been aimed at addressing the scourge of human trafficking, in one way or the other. This represents a positive anti-trafficking wave which will no doubt be welcomed by all modern day abolitionists across the world. This spotlight will hopefully translate to increased awareness of the threat of human trafficking, particularly among women, children and other vulnerable communities. We hope that the focus on trafficking will also translate into an increase in the reporting of any suspected trafficking cases; and the apprehension, arrest and prosecution of traffickers.
However, there has been very little in the way of efforts to address human trafficking, in all its forms, beyond 2010 the FIFA World Cup. While the focus on trafficking is not to be taken lightly there remains a critical need to look at the long term strategies of addressing human trafficking within southern Africa. What we fear, a fear that is no doubt shared by other individuals and organisations, is the fact that the focus on human trafficking may wane and die down as the curtain closes down on the World Cup. There is a need to ensure that there are sustained efforts to address human trafficking stretching beyond the world’s biggest sporting event. As an organisation, we firmly believe that all anti trafficking advocacy, lobbying and awareness raising efforts should be steeped in the realisation that modern day slavery is not a once off occurrence. It (modern day slavery) is influenced by the organised crime industry and continuing complex migration flows.
Long term strategies in this context refer to strategies that recognize the need for reforms to the legal and policy framework and other issues such as integrating anti trafficking awareness raising within training of the security sector and amongst law enforcement agents. There is a need to address the root causes of trafficking. This may include proposing and testing out solutions that seek to redress issues such as porous borders, travel documentation, labour conditions, communities’ behavioural change and socio-economic vulnerabilities among a whole host of other issues. There is scope for instituting or formulating new laws and policies that will ensure enhanced protection of victims and increased prosecution of traffickers. Clearly, these are issues that cannot be addressed during the month long soccer fiesta in South Africa and are issues that require further rumination, if they are to be addressed successfully.
Hopefully, this post will not be read as a condemnation of current on-going efforts by various actors to address the potential upsurge of trafficking during the World Cup. In fact, SAAHTT salutes every individual and organisation that is involved, in one way or the other, in the fight against modern day slavery. More than anything, this post should be read as a reminder to be more forward looking in terms of establishing a permanent infrastructure that moves against an increase in trafficking in the region. We also hope this post will not dampen the unmistakeable excitement and euphoria that is sweeping across southern Africa (you can almost touch it) as a result of the World Cup. Let us all go out and watch some football and rally behind AFRICA!!!