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Taking action against human trafficking

File picture: Sammis Reachers/Pixabay

File picture: Sammis Reachers/Pixabay

Published Jul 25, 2019


In the coming week, the world will observe the international day against human trafficking.

The day serves as a reminder that up to 40.3million people, according to the International Labour Organisation, are trafficked around the globe while it is estimated that between 14500 and 17500 people, including women and children in the majority, are trafficked into the US annually.

South Africa has also been described as a transit and suitable destination for human traffickers. Over the past years, various communities have experienced instances in which the vulnerable, mostly children, have gone missing.

The issue of missing persons reminds me of a grim period in my family after my aunt's son went missing, aged 3. He had been left with a family member who had let him play outside. He ended up at a police station in a different town, and it is still unknown how he got there as he was too young to relay his grim experience.

I can never forget the horror on my aunt's face as she sat up for two sleepless nights praying that her son was still alive.

Perhaps one may point out that she was lucky to have been reunited with her boy as some children never make it back home.

Young women across the world also find themselves in harm's way as they are lured by prospective job recruiters with the promise of employment. Sadly, the whereabouts of some of these young women are today still unknown, with many of them being used as sex slaves.

The world has also experienced a surge in the number of migrants being abducted for forced labour.

The UN is clear that human trafficking is a crime. Despite authorities working hard to end this criminal activity, syndicates involved in human trafficking are constantly one step ahead and often change their modus operandi.

As countries forge ahead to meet the requirements contained in the 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals before 2030, goals 10 and 16 are integral and possibly hold solutions to the elimination of human trafficking.

Goal 10 calls for governments to reduce inequality. This drives home a point made earlier about those who find themselves mired in poverty or earning meagre wages while certain privileged environments make it conducive for their peers or counterparts to live in luxury.

The conditions of a young woman who lives in Joburg's affluent Sandton versus a woman of the same age from the nearby Alexandra township determine who is likely to emerge as perfect prey for a human trafficker, as they mainly target those who are vulnerable.

This, too, applies for a struggling young man in Khayelitsha versus one from Clifton.

Goal 16, meanwhile, urges world leaders to build strong justice institutions that would invariably see perpetrators being brought to book for their heinous crimes.

The fight against human trafficking, however, does not rest solely with governments. Societies also have a duty and responsibility to ensure they guard against those who may take advantage of them.

This simply means that parents need to more than ever guard their children, young women must be vigilant and keep away from situations that seem to be too good to be true. The notion that human trafficking only affects a certain section of society should also be dispelled as traffickers now no longer discriminate, but go for anyone.

Therefore, let us not be silent but rather educate (others) and remain informed about the dangers of human trafficking.

The SA National Human Trafficking has established a resource line that can be accessed at 0800222777, and the Salvation Army can also be supported in its efforts to clamp down on this phenomenon.

* Mokati is a development content editor.

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