38 000 child prostitutes in SA

2004-05-11 12:24

Pretoria - South Africa is a major destination and source for international trafficking of children, a conference on human trafficking heard in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Susan Kreston of the Council of the National Centre for Justice and the Rule of Law in the USA told the conference - arranged by the Institute for Security Studies - that between 28 000 and 38 000 children were currently being prostituted in South Africa.

"Up to 25% of prostitutes in South Africa are children, and up to 25% of street children (are prostitutes)," she told the conference.

In a 2003 study on migration, South Africa was described as the main destination for trafficked children in Southern Africa. "Many are sent from Angola, Botswana, (Democratic Republic of) Congo and Lesotho as well as from Thailand and Russia," the report detailed.

Kreston noted that many of the children prostituted in South Africa had been sold by their parents.

"South Africa is the same as the United States in that it is a magnet state. Because it is mostly economically developed, cosmopolitan and diverse it has become a lucrative market for child traffickers."

In a three-tier grading system - where one is a country doing its utmost to stop trafficking - South Africa is listed in tier two.

"South Africa has laws but needs to do more," said Kreston, adding that legislation combined with a working criminal justice system would jump South Africa into the first tier.

"It's getting there, it just needs that final push," she said.