South Africa needs a concerted effort to develop an effective joint strategy which combines individual efforts in preventing and combating human trafficking in the country, which has become a major concern and one of the fastest-growing social ills. 

Trafficking in persons is still one of South Africa’s most atrocious realities that, unfortunately, still looms and compromises the safety of women and children.
Human trafficking is expanding at an alarming rate. Millions of women, men and children end up in the hands of traffickers worldwide, and exploited in prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation, slavery, bondage, labour, or their organs removed and sold.

According to the International Labour Organisation and Human Trafficking Centre the traffickers, pimps and brothel owners benefit from the sale of women and children at the estimated net profits of over $99billion (R4trillion) each year globally. 

As a country and a province of Gauteng, we can no longer deny that trafficking in persons exists, and vulnerable groups are at risk; however, trafficking in person does not discriminate against gender, level of education, class and income. 

In a commitment to address this modern slavery that is rapidly increasing in the province of Gauteng affecting people and families from all walks of life, South Africa became a signatory of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and children in December 2000 and ratified it in February 2014.

According to article three, paragraph (a) of the protocol emphasises that human trafficking can take place in the form of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, such as abduction, deception, abuse of power to other people due to their position of vulnerability or by giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. 

It’s time for government to implement effective laws that penalise and target the demand that fuels sex trafficking.
There is no moral and legal imperative more urgent today than the need to extinguish this insidious and complex challenge to humanity at its very root and in all its forms. 

The syndicate preys on people’s desperation for work, and capitalises on the vulnerabilities created by permeable borders, unemployment, illiteracy, poverty and generally a lack of economic opportunities to exploit young girls and women.
Human trafficking is a scary reality and it is happening right under our noses, in our communities.

The Sunday Independent