Cases of child trafficking worrisome

Lovemore Lubinda

Trafficking of children in Southern Africa is still a big challenge.

According to Programmes Officer for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Samantha Munodawafa more and more human trafficking cases are being noticed, most of them being that of children.

Speaking at the United States of America Embassy, Public Affairs Section discussion platform ‘Food for Thought’ Munodawafa said trends of human trafficking in Southern Africa are worrisome despite the whole region being part of the protocol that fights human trafficking, with 13 of the nations have enacted laws to that effect.

“The cases being notified are those of children, the majority of them orphans who are more vulnerable,” she said.

She said the distressing state is that of Malawi, where girls from poor families are being trafficked and used in prostitution industry.

Zimbabwe is considered to be one of the major routes in Southern Africa with most victims passing through on their way to South Africa. Trafficking is now a trade (illegal) estimated at US$1.6 billion annually in the Sub-Saharan Africa due to lack of stringent law enforcement.

The UN Protocol on Trafficking defines the act of human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of threat or force, or any other form of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, a position of vulnerability or of the giving and receiving of payments to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation.

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) there is need to encourage governments to cooperate and establish partnerships to combat the crime. An IOM official said there was also a need to enhance the role of the civic society so that it leads in public awareness, as well as engaging survivors of trafficking in person.

Trafficking in the SADC region is being fuelled by the unemployment levels, and South Africa is commonly regarded as the destination. In many cases women and children are lured to South Africa with promises for jobs, education, and only to be sold and sexually exploited.

There are also indications that men are being trafficked into that country for purposes of forced labour, particularly in the agricultural sector.