From a very young age, our parents taught us not to talk to strangers, get into cars with people we don’t know and steer clear of dark alley ways and unfamiliar places. It didn’t seem at al legitimate at the time but when maturity kicks in mom and dad actually knew what they were talking about.
Human trafficking sounds like a movie word. Something fictional that directors and screen writes make up in order to coax up a juicy story, it’s a Leam Neeson scenario where a dad kicks but to save his daughter from the clutches of some really bad people (I’m of course referring to the movie Taken) if only that were the case today. Fact is Human trafficking is a very real thing and it’s happening right under our noses.
In order to really know what this trade is the Palermo Protocol and United Nations defined it as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons. They are either threatened or forced and drugged into the trade. They are viscously exploited by either being forced into prostitution, slavery and forced labour. in severe cases even harvesting the victim for their organs. A work shop held in Johannesburg in 2008 reveal that Human trafficking currently ranks as the third most profitable criminal act in the world. It falls short of the narcotics and weapons industry, but only just. It’s estimated that it’s worth between 7 billion and 12 billion US dollars annually. But the punishment for human trafficking recruiters isn’t nearly as severe as the brutes who act as drug and arms dealers.
In the whole of Africa, our beloved country is regarded as the main destination for trafficked persons. In a continent where there is famine, financial instability and starvation the victims are falsely lured to SA with promises of jobs and stability. Most of these victims are women and children seeking education or marriage only to be sold and sexually exploited in the country’s urban or underdeveloped rural areas. In a shocking turn of events South Africa’s independent newspapers revealed that 900 000 people were smuggled across South African boarders, these statistics were revealed in 2004 and even now, 10 years later the numbers have not been declining. They become sex slaves, child labourers and illegal organ donors.
Now I’ve recently thought, like most people I’m sure, why allow ones’ self to go through all of this? Why not come forward? But naive as I am it’s just not as simple or even possible. Some real survivors have told their stories and when you read them the situation seems impossible and hopeless.
This was the case of a young woman struggling financially in her own country. She sought the help of a fellow Nigerian woman who could provide her with a job abroad (In Europe to be more specific). However like many other cultures there are certain standards, rituals and superstitions involved and Ritha had to promise to repay the woman who promised her a job €60 000 or else she would lose her soul. She arrived in Frankfurt and was forced into prostitution and arrested several times, all in order to repay her debt. It was only later that an NGO convinced her to overcome her fear of breaking her “soul contract” that she got out. She now helps other Nigerian prostitutes struggling to overcome this same manipulation and superstitious beliefs
Lighting the candles on your daughter’s birthday cake you’re not really phased as to where the matches you’re currently using come from are you? 13 Year old Kolma knows exactly. Her parents felt that they had no choice but to take their daughter out of school and put her in bonded labour in order to repay the debts they owed. She had to work in a cold basement for at least 11 hours a day folding and gluing matchboxes. She became depressed and had no positive outlook on life. It became so bad that she tried to take her own life. After three years an NGO found out about Kolma’s conditions and situation and settled her parents’ debt. She has since gone back to school.
Kolma and Ritha are only two of billions. Only a needle in a hay stack. Human trafficking is not just some Hollywood fiction, but a reality that can be happening right under your nose. The Global Freedom Centre has countless testimonials of survivors who have escaped the black hole of that which is human trafficking.
If you want to help:
- You can either donate to help raise money for awareness or to pay for the freedom of so many victims.
- Learn to identify human trafficking and what you can do to prevent it.
- Inform authorities if you suspect something.
You can visit South Africa’s stop human trafficking website at: http://www.stophumantrafficking.co.za/
Or for queries or information regarding the trust
- Contact: 086 177 1177