Human trafficking still a huge problem
By Hassan Isilow
PRETORIA-Many young girls are lured by human traffickers with false promises of jobs in South Africa only to find themselves exploited, an official at the International Organisation for Migration has warned.
“Many people are convinced by human traffickers that there are jobs in South Africa or overseas. But upon arrival, they are exploited,” Marija Nikolovska, head of the irregular migration programme at IOM told Africa Witness.
She said human tracking was a huge problem, but since it was conducted in secret it was difficult to establish the exact number of people affected. Marija said in the last seven years IOM in SADC had assisted over 200 people who had been brought into the region and exploited.
According to a study conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in 2010, four major trafficking streams into South Africa were identified.
The first stream involved cases of trafficking to South Africa from outside Africa. Then trafficking to South Africa from within Africa and trafficking within the national borders of South Africa. The study noted that there were also traffickers who used South Africa as a transit point to other countries.
Trafficking out of South Africa was found to be much less voluminous than trafficking into the country. The HSRC report quoted that the IOM had recorded eight cases of trafficking from South Africa between January 2004 and January 2008. The destination country for the trafficked South Africans included Ireland, Zimbabwe, Israel, Switzerland and the Netherlands. There were also cases of women being trafficked to Macau.
The study confirmed that women constituted the largest group of victims in all streams of trafficking. Victims of intercontinental trafficking were usually between the ages of 19 and 50 years who were trafficked predominantly for sexual exploitation. In the course of the investigation, many forms of exploitation were identified, including trafficking for prostitution, pornography, forced marriage, domestic servitude, forced labour, begging, and criminal activity including drug trafficking.
Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth are believed to be primary destinations for underage sex tourism, involving children between 10 and 14 years of age. The report said this pattern indicated an international component, in which people seeking sex tourism traveled to developing countries looking for anonymity and vulnerable children who are available for prostitution.