Human trafficking – how serious is it?

It’s a story that should be reserved for the movies but sadly it’s a shocking reality. Human trafficking, particularly child trafficking, is a tragedy that most people think will never happen to them. To those unfortunate enough to experience it, it goes without saying that it’s a devastating experience, both for the victims and their loved ones.

Because human trafficking is a difficult crime to detect, it is important for Zimbabwe to be on high alert. South Africa has reported alarming rates of human trafficking, making Zimbabwe’s risk of this crime even higher – due to the proximity and constant movement of people between the two nations. South Africa is one of the countries where international trafficking is widespread. Like Zimbabwe, it is a source, transit and destination for trafficking.

The International Organisation for Migration says that because of the nature of trafficking, it is difficult to substantiate and corroborate the data. But the data that does exist indicates that human trafficking is a worrying trend in South Africa. After persistent lobbying from Child Welfare South Africa, the government finally passed the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons law in 2013. If found guilty, under this law offenders will be fined up to R100 million or risk life imprisonment or both. The passing of this law to deal holistically with human trafficking and related crimes was in recognition of the increase and complicated nature of the crime.

Recently, Zimbabwe joined South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zambia in passing legislation that directly addresses human trafficking – the Trafficking in Persons Act Chapter 10:20. Before this, it was dealt with through various provisions scattered throughout the Criminal Code, the Immigration Act, the Labour Act and the Children‘s Act.

According to Missing Children SA, a child goes missing every six hours in South Africa. In one of the most documented cases of trafficking in 2012, 16 under-age girls were rescued from a Durban brothel. With figures so high just across the border Zimbabwe cannot afford to lower its guard on this ghastly crime.

Human trafficking is estimated to be worth around US$32 billion dollars a year, and it is the third most lucrative illegal trade after weapons and drugs according to the United Nations.

IOM reports that about 800,000 people may be trafficked across international borders annually and has assisted approximately 60,000 trafficked persons in 100 countries.

Post published in: Africa News

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