SA a haven for human trafficking
SOUTH Africa was regarded as the major source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children destined for forced labour and sex trafficking.
According to UN Office on Drugs and Crime South African regional representative Zhulsyz Akisheva, this was due to people who migrated to the country to “better their lives”.
“Desperation for success makes it easier for traffickers to lure their victims and turn them into sex workers,” she said.
This was revealed at a UN Office workshop on the prevention and combating of trafficking in persons held in Pretoria yesterday.
Deputy Minister of Justice John Jeffery said the traffickers targeted those mostly in need of jobs, especially in the rural areas.
He told those gathered that they often recruited young people, taking their identity documents and forcing them into being sex workers.
Jeffery said most children were recruited from poor rural areas to urban centres, such as Joburg, Cape Town, Durban and Bloemfontein.
“At these places, girls are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude, while boys are forced to work in street vending, food service, begging, criminal activities and agriculture.
“Many children, including those with disabilities, are exploited in forced begging. Local criminal rings organise child sex trafficking,” Jeffery said.
“The US State Department’s 2016 Trafficking in Persons report states that South Africans constitute the largest number of victims within the country.
“And research showed that trafficking in persons was still prevalent and a highly under-reported crime,” he said.
Other findings showed that crime syndicates recruited South African women to Europe and Asia, where they were forced into prostitution, domestic service or drug smuggling.
The deputy minister said, however, that the country had launched a co-operation programme to combat trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants under the UN Office.
Despite the desperation for success, another aspect for trafficking was said to be “lover-boy syndrome” – where girls were not aware that they were being groomed to be drug addicts and later sex workers.
Carina Coetzee of the National Prosecuting Authority told the meeting: “Most girls don’t understand that they are being trafficked because they think the trafficker is their boyfriend.”
The workshop was held to canvass support and attain the harmonisation of training programmes on combating trafficking in persons to ensure an effective and co-ordinated response to stakeholders involved.
The workshop continues today.
Most children are recruited from poor rural areas
WORKSHOP: Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development John Jeffery addresses delegates during a UN workshop on human trafficking at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria yesterday.