Human trafficking is not a new phenomenon and has been practiced for decades in various parts of the world. The most vulnerable are usually women and girls who are often trafficked for many reasons, mostly monetary.
The driving reasons behind human trafficking includes poverty, lack of employment opportunities and growing market for commercial sex. Let’s examine the context of human trafficking in respect to South Africa; causes and recommendations for curbing the vice.
What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation or harboring of persons by use of force or threats or other forms such as abduction, deceit or fraud for exploitation.
Human trafficking in South Africa
Human trafficking in South Africa mostly is in the form of forced labor and sexual exploitation among men, women, and children who are either imported or exported. South Africa is one of a few of Africa’s established countries with a stable democratic government with well-developed transport and communication systems.
Besides, it is more industrialized compared to other African countries. As a result, a large number of immigrants from across the continent have been attracted to the country and often move to South Africa for adventure, work or tourism.
Despite this reality, South Africa still bears the burden of HIV and AIDS, high crime rates, collapsed social services and endemic disease – factors which in one way or the other, have contributed to human trafficking in the country.
Causes of human trafficking in South Africa
High Profits from the Human trafficking business
Human trafficking in South Africa and the other parts of the world thrives because of the profitability of the business. For instance, the US State Department estimates that the activity generates between 7 to 10 billion dollars each year.
This makes it the third-most profitable illegal business, behind sale of arms and narcotics.
The low risk involved during the trafficking activity
Human trafficking in South Africa is a properly networked and secretive business. Those involved are usually high-profile people in society and leading businessmen and women who collaborate with various stakeholders in ensuring the trafficking process progresses uninterrupted.
This makes detection and follow-up of human trafficking difficult. Also, the individuals being trafficked often fear to disclose any information concerning the traffickers for fear of retaliatory attacks from the dangerous traffickers.
Unregulated movement across South Africa’s border
Easy movement of goods and people across South Africa’s borders has greatly contributed to human trafficking. Factors that have resulted in this movement include political instability in some neighboring countries, who end up flowing into South Africa for opportunities.
Law enforcement officers have also been reported to be easily bribed to allow undocumented persons to cross the borders further promoting human trafficking as it is difficult to distinguish between those being trafficked and other genuine visitors.
Poverty is one of the main factors that make human traffickers in South Africa take advantage of their unsuspecting victims. They offer them false job promises among other lucrative promises. Due to their low income levels, the victims are usually desperate for jobs and in return, they do anything to secure the promised job hence ending up being trafficked.
How To End Human Trafficking In South Africa
1. National legislation on trafficking should prioritize the fight against human trafficking in South Africa and ensure that the victims of trafficking are not treated as offenders or punished for any related reasons.
2. National legislation on human trafficking should also ensure that victims of trafficking are protected from deportation and possible attacks from the traffickers.
3. The national leadership also should play a role in preventing human trafficking in South Africa. Government leaders ought to articulate and address South African human trafficking issues.