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Predators – traffickers – have waged war against our children

In South Africa, the extent of sexual exploitation of children has increased drastically and its nature has changed over time. On a regular basis, there are reports of cases of children rescued from human traffickers and from the clutches of sex slave rings.

While some of the stories are reported by the media, there are several other cases that go unreported due to the secretive and criminal nature of the activities.

A common feature in the cases is that young children, mostly girls, are used as sex slaves and for other commercial purposes by trafficking rings. Even more shocking is the fact that several of the victims are children between the ages of 10 and 14 years old.

Against the backdrop of inequality, unemployment, lack of education and poverty, the social and economic challenges in South Africa makes it a fertile ground for child sexual exploitation and trafficking. With an estimate of about 68% of South African children living in poor households, 20% of which are orphans, it leaves many families in an economically and socially fragile state. As a result, families struggle for survival and children become more vulnerable to commercial exploitation. 

Traffickers can be a stranger or someone the child knows, such as a relative or a friend. Traffickers are often part of an organised criminal network that ‘recruits’ children and supplies them with fake identification. They may also pose as boyfriends or girlfriends in order to convince children to leave for a new life. 

Since human trafficking is often a crime that is hidden in plain sight, it is important to be aware of its warning signs. Some indications that a person may be a victim of human trafficking include, amongst other things:

• Appearing malnourished

• Showing signs of physical injuries and abuse

• Avoiding eye contact, social interaction, and authority figures/law enforcement

• Seeming to adhere to scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction

• Lacking official identification documents

• Appearing destitute/lacking personal possessions

It is important to remain vigilant and be aware of those around you. You may save a life!

To report a suspected incident of child trafficking contact:

Child Welfare South Africa Hotline: 011 492 2888 / 0861424453 / info@childwelfaresa.org.za  

South African Missing and Exploited Children Centre: 0861 647746 

Childline South Africa: 0800 055 555

IOM 24-hour toll-free helpline: 0800-555-999 

Crime Stop: 08600 10111

We specialise in child law matters pertaining to family law. For more information about child law please view this link : https://benitaardenbaum.com/child-law/

Author – Jessica Gooding

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