What You Can Do to Stop Human Trafficking
“Modern slavery.” It sounds like a paradox. Hasn’t humanity progressed? Didn’t we abandon this barbaric practice centuries ago?
Didn’t Christian reformers like William Wilberforce legislate against such cruelty over 209 years ago? So we had thought. But, with over 27 million enslaved people across the world, human trafficking is back and it is rife today.
Regardless of nationality, victims are systematically stripped of their identity, battered into gruesome submission, and made to perform humiliating sexual acts on up to 30 strangers every night. Most are held in makeshift jail cells, forced to take heavy doses of illegal drugs, and monitored very closely. On average, victims are thrown into such ghastly oppression at 13-years-old. Some are abducted outright, while others are lured out of poverty, romantically seduced, or sold by their families.
27 Million people have been victims of modern day slavery (Not For Sale Campaign).
2 to 4 Million people are victims of trafficking at any given time. (International Labour Organization)
Most trafficking victims are girls between 5 to 15 years of age. (Unicef)
1.2 Million children are trafficked each year. (Unicef)
Half of those children are African. (World Hope International, 2008)
It is a business that makes 49 to 70 billion Rand every year (U.S. $7 to 10 Billion). (United Nations)
Trafficking in South Africa
Between 28 000 to 38 000 children are currently being prostituted in South Africa. (National Centre for Justice and Rule of Law, 2003)
Victims are often recruited from rural areas or informal settlements and transported to the urban centres of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and Durban. (IOM Report on Internal Trafficking in South Africa, 2008)
Boys under eighteen are increasingly lured into sexual exploitation and used for pornography. (IOM, 2008)
West African crime syndicates operate in Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, and Bloemfontein, and traffick local, black South African females into the sex trade. (IOM, 2008)
The Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo are the main “recruitment” areas for victims of trafficking. (IOM, US Aids Research report, Die Burger, 2008)
Real Life Scenarios
"Sometimes girls are told there are good jobs in the city."
Women of all ages are promised good jobs by traffickers away from their homes. Often it is friends and even family members who offer to pay for the travelling costs, passports and accommodation.
The community allows the trafficker to take these girls because they think it is a good opportunity for the girls. The traffickers also promise nice clothes, jewellery and expensive gifts.
Some traffickers put adverts in newspapers promising good jobs, training and accommodation. The opportunity offered to the girls does not exist and they are tricked.
"When they get to the city, their ID documents are taken from them."
When a girl arrives at the new job, the trafficker asks her to give her ID or passport for safe keeping. The girl thinks it is the right thing to do. If the girl is from another country she can now not prove that she is legally in the country.
She is now without her papers and also doesn't have the job that she was promised. This makes her too scared to go to the police.
"These girls are told, you owe us money."
What the traffickers then do, is they tell the girl she owes them money because they paid for everything she needed.
"These girls are told, you must pay the money back by working as a prostitute."
The trafficker tells the girl that she can make the money by working as a prostitute. If she says she does not want to do it, the trafficker will beat and rape her.
The trafficker will even take away her food and water. Even if she starts working as a prostitute, the money she makes is never enough to pay back the trafficker.
"These girls are told, if you tell the police we will hurt you and your family."
Sometimes the trafficker tells the girl that they will hurt her family if she tells someone what they are doing.
If the girl has a child, the trafficker will keep the child from her and tell her to go to the street and work as a prostitute. The trafficker tells her that if she does not do it she will never see her child again.
"These girls cannot do what they want anymore."
The trafficker never takes his eye off the girl. The girl is taken everywhere and she cannot be alone. She now has to do everything the trafficker tells her to do.
The trafficker makes the girl so scared that she becomes afraid to talk to anyone about the problem she has.
"They start taking drugs to forget what is happening to them."
The life of being a prostitute is very hard. The trafficker gives the girl drugs so that she will do what they tell her to do.
The girl starts taking drugs all the time to take the pain away. Now the girl becomes addicted to drugs.
Do you know one of these girls?
Who are the traffickers?
Most trafficking rings are run by gangs and organized crime. But, often it is smaller rings of people, such as brothel and strip club owners, pimps, taxi drivers and even aunties or uncles!
“Jesus said: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’” Luke 4:18-19
Who can I call if I am in danger?
National Helpline: 0800 555 999
What can I do to stop human trafficking?
Print out and distribute our STOP the Traffick leaflet; buy or rent Nefarious and Whistleblower films to screen to your church group.
Share counter-trafficking posts from our Facebook page.
Report Brothels to the Vice Squad
The Vice Squad are a unit of the Cape Town Metro Police, tasked specifically with cracking down on the exploitative practice of prostitution.
Over the last few years they have conducted numerous raids on brothels in the Cape Town area, and have helped to uncover several cases of trafficking and child prostitution. They have been able to shut down some brothels for not having a business licence. Trafficked victims are taken to shelters and child prostitutes are restored to their families where appropriate.
Prostitution is still illegal in South Africa according to the Sexual Offences Act, although the act is rarely enforced by SA police.
If you live in Cape Town, and suspect that a house in your area may be operating as a brothel, or if streets in your neighbourhood are affected by prostitution, please report this to the Metro Police.
Invite a Speaker
Invite a speaker from Africa Christian Action (021 – 6894480), Concerned Young People (072 673 9234) STOP Trafficking (082 456 2459), or Straatwerk (021 – 930 8055) to motivate and mobilise your congregation to prayer and action on this issue.
Make a difference in your community
Network with other ministries in your area reaching out to prostitutes and trafficked victims in SA.Contact STOP Trafficking: 082 456 2459 for details of outreach teams in Musina, Johannesburg, Pretoria, PE, Durban and Cape Town.
Volunteer or Support a Shelter
STOP Trafficking and S-Cape run shelters for victims of trafficking in the Cape Town area. You can support them by volunteering, giving skills training to the residents, or by donating toiletries, cleaning products, or food such as rice and sugar.
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves." Proverbs 31:8
You can download this article in tract format here.
Africa Christian Action
PO Box 23632
Tel: 021-689 4481