Let us all action against Human Trafficking

The Commission for Gender Equality’s (CGE) primary area of concern and entry point for engaging with the 2010 World Cup is the Human Trafficking, which by its nature must be distinguished from sex work, and is inextricably linked with migration. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) notes that synergy on understanding of essential themes and issues involved has to be found. A prevalent and yet hidden form of modern-day slavery, it is essential that the rapidly growing illicit business of trafficking in persons garners recognition as a key migration issue of modernity.

Thousands of women and girl-children are trafficked into South Africa every year, and NGOs are concerned that this already high number is going to increase drastically when hosts the 2010 World Cup. Molo Songololo notes two ways in which international sporting events can affect human trafficking- firstly, the “short-term increase in demand for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation in and around the event”, but secondly, in the way that the “facilitate the entry or trafficked persons as ‘visitors’ before they are transited to other cities or countries where they are exploited”. Research points that majority of women and children trafficked to South Africa come from Southern African countries such as Lesotho, Mozambique and Malawi.

In South Africa, trafficking in persons is both trans-national crime as well as a crime that takes place within the borders of the country. The primary factors that facilitate trafficking in persons are: poverty, family breakdown, gender discrimination, culture, HIV and AIDS, war, natural disasters and political instability, ignorance and demand. Other factors include weak laws, corruption and migration. As the demand for sex workers increase so does human trafficking. Also discouraging is the response so far from the state, such as public statements by politicians relating to possible temporary legalization and regulation of the sector, and the creation of red light districts, that a clear stand needs to be taken on the issue. The CGE would seek an informed decision relating to the decriminalizing of sex work, at the first phase of a well-considered strategy and approach towards dealing with sex work in SA. This should include the surfacing of issues relating to health, HIV and AIDS, security and potential abuse, through dialogue with experts in the field.

The CGE is concerned at the possibility of increased incidents of gender-based violence (GBV), fuelled by alcohol abuse and possibly cultural elements around soccer matches related to machiosm, which encourages aggression. A hegemonic model of masculinity that prioritizes competitiveness, winning, aggression, violence, superiority to women, respect for and compliance with male authority is perceived to be inherent in football. This hegemony and its related practices is reproduced and perpetuated through various channels to legitimize, maintain and reinforce existing gender and class inequalities. SAPS and our courts are struggling to curb increasing incidents relating to violence against women, children and persons in general

The CGE has advocated on Human Trafficking to endure that awareness is raised through:

  • Making comments to the Draft Bill on adult prostitution made to the Department of Constitutional Justice and Development.
  • Making comments and submissions on the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill to the Department of Constitutional Justice and Development.
  • Monitoring the first case of human trafficking in Durban
  • Working closely with SAPS in highlighting the plight of those trafficked in view of a reported incident in Johannesburg
  • Partnering with the City of Johannesburg (Migration Desk) in raising awareness around this phenomenon.
  • Working closely with law enforcers in all nine provinces in sensitizing people about the dangers of human trafficking and what people should do in case they saw something suspicious in their neighbourhood such as writing to crime line, reporting such incidents to the police.
  • Sitting on Provincial Task Teams in human trafficking.
  • Delivering papers on various workshops and seminars on same issue.
  • Partnering with Molo Songololo in advocacy programmes around Human Trafficking.
  • Engaging relevant stakeholders to raise its concerns and seek responses.
  • Wrote opinion pieces on human trafficking, henceforth condemning the negative portrayal of women in the media

The CGE will draw on its legislated powers and partnerships to monitor implementation of the responses emanating from the round-table discussions, and take any further action necessary. The CGE has launched numerous public education campaigns in the build-up to the 2010 World Cup, and report to parliament on its findings. Some of these undertakings will be done with NGO and other CSOs.