Fighting against human trafficking

2015-11-17 06:00
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HUMAN trafficking is referred to as modern-day slavery. Thora Mansfield, founder of Open Door Crisis Centre said human trafficking is unlawful and not only violates basic human rights, it contravenes the law.

“It can be defined as the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them. Human trafficking knows no boundaries, it is both an international and domestic problem and affects, in varying degrees, both males and females.
“People who are targeted by criminals are desperate and poor who aspire to a better life. Human trafficking can be committed by a sole individual, partners or by actors in an organised fashion.”

She said human trafficking is ranked second in the criminal industry after drug and arms trafficking.
“It is regarded as a profit-making, lucrative business for criminal syndicates. It knows no borders and operates internationally and locally. Due to its clandestine and complex nature, it is difficult to detect. Therefore, reliable statistics on the magnitude of the problem are difficult to ascertain.

“There are various forms of human trafficking practices for different exploitative purposes. The most common forms of trafficking are for the purposes of sexual exploitation. The other forms of trafficking are for forced labour.
“Other forms are trafficking of children in war conflicts or for petty crime or forced begging or street vending, trafficking for organ removal - in South Africa body parts are used for muthi for witchcraft - and forced marriage of young girls and women.”

Human trafficking for various exploitative purposes has adverse effects on the victims namely the victim’s physical and mental health.
“Trafficked victims who are exploited for sexual purposes are entered into forced marriages. They are prone to contracting sexually transmitted infections, HIV and Aids and pregnancy-related complications. Some of them become dependent on drugs as a coping mechanism in the sex industry.

“They suffer physical and verbal abuse at the hands of the trafficker. They also exhibit trauma tendencies like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In cases of forced labour, the trafficked victim is exposed to dangerous working conditions, lengthy working hours, which contribute to sleep deprivation and unsuitable and unhygienic accommodation.”

Children who are trafficked for the purposes of child labour are deprived of access to basic education and further education.
“In instances of human trafficking for organ removal, such practices most often lead to the death of victims. In the case of trafficking for petty crime, the victims enter the vicious cycle of crime. Some also end up being traffickers in their own right.”

The Open Door Crisis Care Centre, an NGO founded in 1997, offers psychological and emotional counselling and support to victims of all forms of crisis and trauma.
It also plays an important role in contributing to the reduction of the high incidence of crimes against women and children.
“Open Door is the lead organisation in the fight against human trafficking in KZN. The organisation's shelter, Ikhaya leThemba registered with the Department of Social Development, was the first of its kind to be recognised as an accredited shelter in KZN.

One of the organisation’s immediate goals in 2016 is to expand awareness campaigns to schools and tertiary institutions, communities and religious sectors as a preventative measure to potential victims of human trafficking.

For further information on human trafficking, or if you wish to support anti-human trafficking programmes email thora@opendoor.org.za or call 031 709 2679. - Supplied.

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