3 sordid facts about human trafficking

2014-11-11 09:09

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Cape Town - There are 4.5 million sex slaves trapped in a sleazy underworld of brothels and drug dens, but that’s just a quarter of the world’s slaves, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

A whopping 14.2 million men, women and children are forced to work our land, construct our buildings and clean our homes. Some of them are even being made to become drug mules or donate their organs.

Up to 47 000 slaves are thought to be working in South Africa right now - both foreigners and locals like.

Here are three disturbing facts:

Human trafficking is on our farms too

Sex trafficking hogged the headlines in the run up to the 2010 World Cup - with experts predicting that South Africa would be overrun by it.

They were wrong - but it’s a view people have "got stuck" on, Diane Wilkinson, Gauteng coordinator for the National Freedom Network told News24.

Forced labour is a far bigger problem.

"For example if there is a brothel raid you will maybe find three to seven ladies on average, but raid a farm and you can find 11-20 plus men 'working' there," Wilkinson said.

One in four slaves are children

A heartbreaking 5.5 million kids are being kept as slaves - that's one in four of the world's slaves, the ILO's figures show.

In South Africa, children are mainly kidnapped from poor rural areas, and transported to cities.

Kids are made to work in agriculture, or on the street - begging, stealing, street vending or carrying drugs.

Last year, American researchers noticed a rise in forced begging - sometimes using disabled kids.

The US Trafficking in Persons 2014 report also warned that kidnappers are using the cultural practice of forced marriage - or ukuthwala - as an alibi for sex trafficking girls.

Girls are illegally adopted or trapped into marriage - being groomed as domestic servants or sex slaves.

For the first time in our history, this trend saw a South African man jailed for 20 years in January.

99.8% of the victims haven't been found yet

Last year cops were able to find just 0.2% of the estimated 20.9 million global victims of slavery - who are forced or hoodwinked into taking jobs that they can’t get out of.

In South Africa, the authorities helped around 100 victims, according to the US report - but there are thought to be at least 42 000 and 47 000 slaves working in the country right now.

Our government still hasn’t done enough to meet international standards of protecting victims, and last year we only jailed two people for human trafficking.

*Read this News24 investigation for more detail on the shameful truth about human trafficking in South Africa.

- For help or advice please call the toll free national human trafficking help line number 08000 RESCU (08000 73728).

Read more on:    human trafficking

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