The Travesty of Human Trafficking in South Africa

Renowned South African human rights lawyer George Bizos was moved to tears by the abuses highlighted in an exhibition on human trafficking in South Africa, launched at Constitutional Hill, writes Jackie Bischof for journalism.co.za.
Looking at the photographs,  Bizos said he “wondered what happened to sections of the Constitution in relation to the girls [in the images].”  Bizos said he was shocked to see how the photographs displayed “practically every one of the sub-sections in Section 28 [being] evidently disregarded.” Section 28 in the South African Bill of Rights deals the protection of children.Bizos said he was confounded that human trafficking was still an issue in South Africa when other regions, such as parts of Europe, had virtually eradicated the  problem within ten years of tackling it. “We don’t have to shout from the rooftops [about trafficking],” said Bizos. “We have [the media] and other ways in which our voices can be heard. But let’s not be silent.” He added that the first step that needs to be taken is urgently pushing through human trafficking legislation currently before Parliament.

The exhibition will run through mid-December and is part of Media Monitoring Africa’s interrogation of the media’s coverage of human trafficking in the country before, during and after the 2010 World Cup.Situated in the old Women’s Gaol at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg, which housed several female activists during the apartheid era, the exhibition features the photographs of Melanie Hamman, who has been visually documenting incidences of human trafficking around the world since 2007. The exhibition of her work in South Africa features pictures of three victims who had been lured away from their home with empty promises of work and financial gain and were struggling to escape their situation.

Human trafficking is something that the ordinary South African is totally oblivious to, says Hamman, and the incredible wealth in the country makes it even harder to understand how the trafficking of young children can be so rife.“SA is a wonderfully prosperous country, and there’s so much hope and so much has been achieved in the last ten years,” said Hamman. “But I see the wealth and the prosperity and I’ve stepped into the darkest, most impoverished parts of this nation as well. And something about that is just not right. How can a nation care? And why doesn’t a nation care?” asked Hamman. Pursuing a life that is even “basically happy” is an impossible obstacle for some of the children who are trafficked.With

Hamman’s photos flanking one wall, the other side of the room featured images chosen by MMA’s Child Media Monitors. Some of the images had been taken by Hamman while others were captured by amateur photographers from the Umuzi Photo Club in Soweto. Over a period of four months, MMA ran media workshops with around 60 ‘Child Media Monitors’ aged 9 to 13, looking at whether South African media coverage of children was fair and balanced. A portion of the children focussed on the issue of child trafficking. Photographs chosen by the children and their responses to the pictures appeared in the exhibition.The children’s participation in the exhibition allowed them to “communicate their pressing concerns relating to children’s rights; how these rights are upheld or denied in their own communities and the potential impact this may have,” said the MMA’s William Bird.Prior to the exhibition, Hamman and the children also discussed media coverage of child trafficking rumours over the World Cup period and debated whether sensational reporting such as figures of 100 000 girls being trafficked in for the World Cup, or children being kidnapped and sold for tens of thousands of rands helped the issue or contributed to media fatigue.Some of the rumours were way off the mark. “South African children aren’t that valuable,” said Hamman. “It can cost you R100 for a pimp to buy a South African child. The media is not really telling the right story.”The exhibition will run until the middle of December at the Women’s Gaol at Constitution Hill on Kotze Street, Johannesburg. For more information on the MMA, visit http://www.mediamonitoringafrica.org/.

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SAAHTT Newsletter 2nd Edition goes live tomorrow. Here is a teaser!!

We launched our email newsletter two months back. The second edition will be posted tomorrow. Here is a teaser

SAAHTT Newsletter Edition 2 Teaser!

We hope you will enjoy reading this tomorrow. If you would like to receive our newsletter straight to your inbox, please subscribe on this blog. Your email will only be used for the purposes of receiving this email newsletter. If at any time you feel you you do not want to receive any more news, updates or newsletters from us you can immediately unsubscribe.

Gilbert Makore

Ashton Kutcher to UN: Twitter, Facebook can be Great Weapons in Fight Against Human Trafficking

By Pam BristowHuffington Post

I was fortunate enough to be present at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on November 4 for the launch of the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons. To be managed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the fund will provide humanitarian, legal, and financial aid to victims of human trafficking. The initiative is a central element of the new UN Global Plan of Action adopted by the UN General Assembly this past July.

Having worked on other UNODC projects, I can personally attest to how much weight this UN agency throws behind combating one of the great atrocities of our time. This meeting was no exception. Alongside UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sat the meeting’s moderator — two time New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning author-journalist Nicholas Kristof — and actors Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher whose humanitarian work in the arena of human trafficking was being highlighted. The couple’s organization, DNA, is working to abolish modern-day slavery in the United States and abroad. The meeting took an interesting turn when the conversation shifted to Kutcher’s mastery of social networking and how he was channeling his online prowess to serve his nonprofit’s mission.

 

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore

After sobering opening remarks by the Secretary-General on the current scope of the 32 billion dollar international human trafficking trade, Kristof introduced Kutcher, humorously pointing out Kutcher ‘s 6 million Twitter followers versus the UN’s 140,000. In response, Kutcher offered new insight to Kristof’s leading question “Why the internet?”

The actor-activist argued that, while having fueled the sex trade with its built-in anonymity, speed, and ease of access, the internet has also given law enforcement and activist groups a strong weapon with which to combat trafficking and offer aid to victims. Kutcher pointed out that part of what makes dismantling and exposing trafficking networks so challenging is the industry’s global nature. For example, in just one transaction, several countries will likely be involved. The “broker” will be in Country A, the victim may be abducted from Country B, the transaction will take place in Country C, and the final customer will return home to Country D with his new acquisition. Additionally 76 percent of these child trafficking transactions happen on the internet. The internet, Kutcher argues, is a global solution to a global problem, allowing us to fight and expose human trafficking across borders.

Victim demographics play a factor as well. The average American age for forced entry into the sex trade is 13. While this is a devastating statistic, it plays in favor of using the internet as a tool to reach at-risk adolescents, many of whom are runaways. According to Kutcher many of these kids are still updating their social networking pages once they have left home. Kutcher and Moore have seized this opportunity by creating partnerships with a coalition of tech companies including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Twitter with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to develop technological solutions to the problem of child sex slavery. Initiatives include the implementation of online predator deterrants as well as PhotoDNA and geo-location technology to help protect children and find and rescue victims.

Kutcher said his Twitter presence has also given him a platform to affect male attitudes about the sex trade. “I can use Twitter to implore men around the world to understand that buying sex isn’t cool… when they find out that the average age of entry to the business is 13 and that most of these girls are held against their own will, suddenly it becomes a lot less sexy.”

At the peak of the legal slave trade in 1780, an estimated 80,000 slaves from Africa were brought to the New World in one year. Almost 250 years later, the UN estimates that there are approximately 2.5 million slaves in captivity worldwide at any time. As Kutcher pointed out, “we agreed to abandon slavery 62 years ago (with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948.) We are not asking for new laws. Let’s just enforce the ones we have.”

Those wishing to learn more or make a pledge to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons can visit the UNODC fund page.

SAAHTT Blog Turns 1 !

The Southern African Anti Human Trafficking Trust (SAAHTT) blog is now a year old and we are pretty excited by achievements and results we have been able to attain as an organisation, in no small part, due to the blog. It all started on 22 October 2009 with this post and 12 months later we have managed to post a total of 60 posts on the blog ranging from videos, presentations, articles, news-clips and wide ranging analyses. That represents 5 blog posts per month or a post every week. Over 90% of those 60 posts is original content that we have created on human trafficking, thereby creating an important information repository on human trafficking with a focus on southern Africa. What is more exciting more than any other statistic is the fact that the blog has drawn over 5000 views since we started and the Facebook page has now grown to over 1100 active modern day abolitionists who believe in combatting human trafficking. We are confident that the blog has not just been an end itself. But has allowed SAAHTT to educate and empower. Indeed we have received hundreds of comments and incoming links on the blog articles on facebook, twitter and the blog itself.

The post that began it all

The post that began it all

We realise though that this is not the end of the journey but represents the start of much more work to come. We are pretty excited as we go into the second year and promise to make this blog more relevant and better informing. We hope it will continue to inspire people to take action and take a stand against human trafficking. So, here’s to another exciting 12 months!!! Stay engaged.

Gilbert Makore

 

Teaser: SAAHTT’s new e-Newsletter

The Southern African Anti Human Trafficking Trust (SAAHTT) is committed to developing various strategies to combat modern day slavery in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. This commitment is borne from the realisation that there is very limited knowledge and capacity to address human trafficking despite the increasing evidence pointing to the increase in incidences of trafficking. To this end we aim to increase awareness on the occurrence of human trafficking within the region through harnessing various media platforms including blogs, new social media tools and indeed traditional methods of raising awareness like encouraging word of mouth and developing visibility materials. We are therefore super excited to state that we will be launching a e-newsletter that will include projects by SAAHTT, anti human trafficking news from around SADC and any other relevant human trafficking  information. The newsletter will be sent out to subscribers every 2 months and we will be incorporating changes and new features in subsequent editions, taking into account feedback from you. The newsletter will be in HTML and or plain text and will allow you to share its contents on facebook, twitter and other platforms. Please subscribe to this blog in-order for us to put you on the mailing list.   You can subscribe by clicking the tab on the right pane of the blog-‘subscribe by e-mail’ or you could also send a blank e-mail to saahtt@gmail.com . We will not publicise your private e-mail and you will still have the option to unsubscribe at any moment you feel you want out. Here is a teaser:

SAAHTT e-newsletter

SAAHTT e-newsletter

United Nations launches global plan of action against human trafficking

Photo: UNODC1 September 2010 – The United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons was adopted by the General Assembly on 30 July to urge Governments worldwide to take coordinated and consistent measures to try to defeat the scourge.

The Plan calls for integrating the fight against human trafficking into the United Nations’ broader programmes to boost development and strengthen security around the world.

It also calls for the setting up of a United Nations voluntary trust fund for victims of trafficking, especially women and children.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the Plan of Action should serve as “a clarion call” to Member States, international organizations and civil society groups of the need to take immediate steps “to stop this terrible crime against human dignity, which shames us all”.

The United Nations has estimated that more than 2.4 million people are currently being exploited as victims of human trafficking.

“It is slavery in the modern age,” Mr. Ban said. “Every year thousands of people, mainly women and children, are exploited by criminals who use them for forced labour or the sex trade. No country is immune. Almost all play a part, either as a source of trafficked people, transit point or destination.”

The Secretary-General urged countries, philanthropists and others to contribute generously to the new trust fund for trafficking victims.

“The fund aims to help Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations provide these vulnerable people with protection and support for their physical, psychological and social recovery. After they have been exploited and abused, they should not be punished, too.”

The Plan of Action – which focuses on preventing trafficking, prosecuting offenders and protecting victims – also stresses the importance of obtaining more research, data and analysis about the problem.

“We must improve our knowledge and understanding of this crime if we are to make good policy decisions and targeted interventions,” Mr. Ban said.

“Within the United Nations system, my appreciation goes to UN.GIFT, the Vienna Forum, the Blue Heart Campaign and our goodwill ambassadors. UNODC’s Global Report on Human Trafficking, anti-trafficking toolkits and manuals, documentary films, public information and technical assistance have also played a part to build consensus. I thank all those involved for their commitment and hard work”, he said.

He added that the only way to end human trafficking is by working together, between States and within regions, among United Nations entities and in public-private partnerships.

In his address, General Assembly President Ali Treki emphasized the human rights aspects of the fight against trafficking. “Abduction, coercion, trafficking across national and international borders, forcing women and children into sexual exploitation and servitude – this must not be accepted in today’s world,” he said.

“As this heinous crime flourishes, thousands of men, women and children are robbed of their safety, their freedom and their dignity. Human trafficking devastates families and tears communities apart. When the history of this horror calls, we cannot let this period be remembered as one in which the global community knew but did not act.”

Source: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/2010/September/un-launches-global-plan-of-action-against-human-trafficking.html?ref=fs3

SAAHTT in 140 characters

Shakespeare once said ‘brevity is the soul of wit’. Thomas Jefferson concured and stated that ‘the most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do’ And with twitter becoming a real communications mainstay in our lives, we figure that its really important to be able to describe what SAAHTT does in 14o character.

twitter

twitter

SAAHTT ‘partners with civil society, communities and government to combat modern day slavery in southern Africa through research, awareness raising and capacity building’

-thats 141 chracters without spaces and 162 characters with spaces. Now, what to do with those 42 characters??? Just having a little fun 🙂