Some 20 to 30 percent of the world’s gold comes from artisanal mines  throughout Africa, South America, and Asia. Artisanal mines typically found in rural areas of developing countries. They offer communities and families a way to make a living in areas where few alternatives exist. But these mines are also the sites of modern-day slavery; of the two million children who work in gold mines world-wide, many are forced, often through debt bondage, to do back- breaking work in hazardous conditions.


  • Exposure to hazardous elements: Mercury is magnetically attracted to gold, making it a good tool for locating gold and separating it from the soil. In Africa, many children rub mercury into their hands before sifting soil through their fingers. In South America, children reportedly wash gold while standing in waist deep water contaminated by mercury. Prolonged mercury exposure causes retardation, blindness, kidney damage, and tremor. To a lesser extent, child mine laborers are also exposed to cyanide and sulfur. A 2006 Harvard medical school study found that children in gold mining communities showed neurological abnormalities resulting from mercury and cyanide exposure.
  • Mine collapses, explosions: Artisanal mines frequently collapse, killing or injuring workers. Children are often lowered into narrow mine shafts as deep as 90 meters, sometime for up to 18 hours. In Bolivia, trafficked boys as young as eight help detonate dynamite in the interior of gold mines
  • Long hours, back- breaking work: Traffickers in the Democratic Republic of Congo subject children to debt bondage in gold mines, forcing them to work nine to ten hours daily digging tunnels and open- pit mines. In gold mines in Ethiopia, children are forced to work an average of 14 hours a day, six days a week

Major Forms of Human Trafficking ( forced labor)

On behalf of the SAAHTT board of trustees and staff we would like the wish everyone a happy new year and hope you will continue to fight against human trafficking and indeed any human rights abuse in 2011. At SAAHTT we are gearing up for an extra ordinary year as we are seeking to step up our anti trafficking efforts to new levels and we hope you will join hands with us and take up your place in ridding the world of this inhumane crime.

In 2010 we received tremendous response to our articles. Among the numerous comments we received where also a large number of questions on human trafficking. In 2011 we are going to dedicate some of our articles to answer some of your questions. In the first few articles we are going to focus on the different forms of trafficking in persons. Many readers of our articles ask if persons are only trafficked for sexual exploitation? Are they any other forms of trafficking?

Well the answer is yes! In the article we are going to focus on

 Forced Labor!!!

The majority of human trafficking in the world and indeed southern africa takes the form of forced labor, according to the ILO’s estimate on forced labor. Also known as involuntary servitude, forced labor may result when unscrupulous employers take advantage of gaps in law enforcement to exploit vulnerable workers. These workers are made more vulnerable to forced labor practices because of high rate of unemployment, poverty, crime, discrimination, corruption, political conflict, and cultural acceptance of the practice.  

Immigrants are particularly vulnerable, but individuals are also forced into labor in their own countries. Female victims of forced labor, especially women and girls in domestic servitude, are often sexually exploited as well.

Forced labor is a form of Human trafficking that is often harder to identify and estimate than sex trafficking. It may not involve the same criminal networks profiting from transnational sex trafficking. Instead, it may involve individuals who subject workers to involuntary  servitude, perhaps through forced or coerced household or factory work.

By: Shonhiwa. Bakare

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
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

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.

Trafficking Body Parts in Zimbabwe (The Call for Action)

Information on trafficking body parts has previously been based almost entirely on hearsay and this has made it easy for both government and civil society to claim it either does not occur or is so infrequent it does not merit any response or attention. However the report in the Zimbabwean Sunday Mail Newspaper on the 31st of October 2010 on the ritual murders occurring in Chipinge seems to show a different picture.  The findings of this report in the view of the Southern African Anti Human Trafficking Trust (SAAHTT) show just the tip of the whole situation in a system of regular mutilations occurring in Zimbabwe and indeed the rest of the Southern African region.

When it comes to trafficking human body parts there are two main types; the first is trafficking organs for organ transplant and secondly trafficking organs and body parts in connection to harmful traditional practices and more specifically witchcraft. It is clear from numerous reports provided over the years that body parts in this part of the world are not trafficked for transplant purposes. Many of the cases reported in the media, body parts are transported in bags, wrapped in leaves, hidden in boxes of meat e.t.c. None of these transportation methods are conducive to transplant.

The objective of using body parts in the so called “medicine murder” or muti murder is to create powerful traditional medicine based partly on human body parts. Traditional medicine has a wide range of purposes, for instance to heal illness and economic advancement or just to hurt enemies.

This practice has been occurring in Zimbabwe for generations and it also occurs in the whole Southern African region. In Mozambique the Human Rights League which is a local based NGO recorded a case in 2008 where a 10 year old boy’s body was found at the night in Tsatsimbe River in Magude, Mozambique. According to the clinic post mortem, the child was found “without the head, heart, liver, penis and testicles, and had an oblique incision from the left to right made with a sharpened cutting object”. It states that the child was murdered violently and the injuries were fatal. The community members believed the body parts were taken to South Africa as they where never recovered.

Zimbabwe as with most countries in Southern Africa region is ranked over 100 out of the 177 countries ranked in the human development index. Zimbabwe has specifically been suffering from political and financial instability for the better part of the last ten years and therefore poverty and poor life opportunities is a reality for the vast majority of the population and poverty is a well known strong driver when it comes to people consulting witchdoctors as people desperately try to evade poverty and the frustrations and poor life conditions associated with it and therefore become susceptible to unreasonable demands by the witchdoctors to achieve it.

There is a need for immediate and sustained action by government and civil society in Zimbabwe in order to combat such gross violations of the rights of the victims of these practices and SAAHTT believes the following actions can assist in combating this problem:

  1. For programmes to be developed, there firstly needs to be an acknowledgement from government that regular mutilations occur and that body parts are removed from victims and trafficked on an ongoing basis.
  2. Local communities affected by this phenomenon are often reluctant to speak out due to fear, it is therefore critical that civil society and government  starts working to remove the mystery surrounding trafficking in body parts. This can be achieved through public awareness on the nature of trafficking in body parts and human trafficking in general and it is our view that it will go a long way in protecting potential victims from the clutches of traffickers
  3. Generally in the SADC region, comprehensive legislation on human trafficking is still lacking, and traffickers have taken advantage of this weakness. In fact, it is the victims who if found alive become criminals as they are prosecuted for a variety of offences, such as violating immigration laws. It is therefore imperative that Zimbabwe and other countries in the region adopt comprehensive anti- trafficking legislation; in line with international standards and that the legislation should cover issues of trafficking human body parts.

In conclusion trafficking in body parts is closely and inextricably linked to some of the worst forms of human rights violations. Many pay the ultimate price and lose their lives. It is time to hold our government accountable and push for the protection of all the men, women, boys and girls who are increasingly falling victim to this in humane practice. This is a call for ACTION!!!

Shonhiwa. Bakare

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