Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Child Trafficking

UNICEF reports that child trafficking now rivals that of drugs and arms trafficking. This is really horrible to hear. In many ways we are living in the most technologically advanced and progressive of times than ever before in human history. Yet, we are still unable to get rid of some of the world's worst social problems. Globalisation seems to be the current mode of global societal evolution - it is a process that is economically led and shaped, whereas before Church and then State determined the shape of our societies, more and more this is becoming increasingly moulded by economics. While I don't think globalisation can be stopped, from a pragmatic point of view that would be impossible, also globalisation brings many positive benefits - but it does unfortunately, like all social systems, have an ugly downside.

"Millions of children are trafficked every year as part of a lucrative industry linked with criminal activity and corruption. Trafficking in human beings is beginning to rival the illegal trade of drugs and arms, with an estimated revenue of as much as $10 billion a year. Hidden from view and without legal protection, children in poor countries are often lured by promises of a good education or a “better job.” Far from home or in a foreign country, trafficked children – disoriented, without papers, and excluded from any form of protection– can be forced to endure prostitution, domestic servitude, early and involuntary marriage, or hazardous and punishing labour"
(Source: UNICEF)

Also, "According to the International Labour Organization, an estimated 246 million children are engaged in exploitative child labour. Almost three quarters of them work in hazardous environments such as mines or factories, or with dangerous substances such as chemicals and agricultural pesticides. Some 5.7 million of these children work under especially horrific circumstances, including the virtual slavery of bonded labour"
(Source: UNICEF)

South Africa unfortunately, is a major player in this area. In 2003, the Cape Town based child advocacy group Molo Songololo released a report estimating that there were up to 38,000 child prostitutes in South Africa and that 25 percent of the country's street children engaged in survival sex. South Africa has become a transit country for girls as young as 10 from other African countries who are being sold as sex slaves to international syndicates. The International Organisation for Migration published research in 2003 stating that South Africa is a main destination for trafficked women and children.

Sadly, the global trafficking industry is one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative criminal enterprises in the world. "There are no exact figures, but a U.S. government report suggests 50 percent of all trafficked victims are children. International Labor Organization figures for 2000 estimate 1.8 million children are exploited in the commercial sex industry, while UNICEF estimates that child soldiers have been used in more than 30 ongoing or recent armed conflicts in almost every region of the world". (Source:Jerusalem Post)

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