World Cup trafficking danger

children_walking_inJOHANNESBURG - Human Rights defenders have expressed fears that human traffickers could be setting their sights on Zimbabwean children ahead of the 2010 Soccer showcase in South Africa. (Pictured: Young children are at risk from the dangers of trafficking in the run up to the W

Speaking during a media launch hosted by Gender Links (GL) and the Gender and Media Diversity Center (GMDC) at the Italian Club last week, Mildred Mushinje, who works for the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP), said Zimbabwe was at the epicentre of the 2010 World Cup.

“Zimbabwean children are at great risk of falling victim to human traffickers because our country is so close to South Africa and shares borders with other African countries. This makes it a lucrative hunting ground for traffickers and its borders are viewed as attractive transit points for child trafficking,” she said. Mushinje pointed out that the country’s economic decline in recent years had affected children, many of whom had been orphaned by AIDS and made vulnerable.

Sex in exchange for survival

Evidently some children who are forced to become caregivers resort to transactional sex in order to make an income and even in exchange for food. The World Cup creates rife opportunity for such trade. “The impending World Cup which is being hosted in South Africa brings an added dimension to these children’s vulnerability. Though undesirable, it is more than likely that some children will be negatively affected by this world renowned event,” said Mushinje.

Some activists anticipate that more unsuspecting young girls will be trafficked from Zimbabwe to South Africa to satisfy the demands of foreign visitors. In Zimbabwe, human trafficking has proved difficult to detect as people are generally not aware that they are being trafficked. Most of the victims are trafficked with promises of jobs, better career prospects and marriage.

Jacob Matakanye, the CEO of the Musina Legal Advice Centre, observed that Zimbabwe was considered an ideal opportunity for traffickers because of its proximity to South Africa. He added that Zimbabwean migration included various classes of people providing ample camouflage for human traffickers. Tragically, some women have been central to the human trafficking syndicates, posing as mothers.

An IOM spokesperson for Southern Africa, Nde Ndifonka, said: Women have also become part of the trafficking ring and they target specifically vulnerable young children, as there is a demand for labour and sexual exploitation in South Africa.” Sabelo Sibanda of Lawyers for Human Rights in Musina observed that a trend had started where more and more women were seen coming in from Zimbabwe with groups of children who are “too numerous and often too similar in age to be from one mother”.

Mushinje said Zimbabwe currently has no explicit laws to prohibit trafficking in persons and although the Government reported in 2007 that it was drafting comprehensive trafficking legislation, it is yet to be introduced to parliament.

Post published in: Football

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *