Featured Images: Matilde Simas​​​​​​​
South Africa is a prime spot for traffickers, it is where victims can be found or used as a place to transport a victim or it can be where victims are forced to work. 
There has been a spike in kidnapping in South Africa over the past few months. There are powerful people involved in and controlling these trafficking rings. The people in charge are not known to the public but their power would indicate that those people would include a select few of the extremely rich and some government officials. South Africans are currently having to deal with femicide along with a high rate of kidnappings, all while living through pandemic. People must use vigilance to protect themselves and bravery to protect others. 
According to “2019 Trafficking in Persons Report: South Africa”, South Africa is under Tier 2 Watch List. This means the country’s government does not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act but the country continues to reach to achieve the correct requirements to become compliant.  
A21, a non-profit that helps rescue trafficked victims and prevent others from becoming victims states that 53.76% of South Africans are vulnerable to human trafficking.
Victims are thrown into the world of trafficking in various ways, such as a job offer, a relationship, sold by a friend or family member, or kidnapping. All these forms of manipulation are linked by one thing: desperation.​​​​​​​
In South Africa, the unemployment rate is 30,1% this in turn encourages many people to accept any job offer that comes their way, this is the method most traffickers use. Fake job offers usually entail a high pay rate, expenses such as travel, and accommodation are all paid for and no qualifications are needed.
The second most used method is when friends or family members sell the victim. The predators say they are willing to send the victim to an expensive prestigious school that is far from home. In some cases, it may be a roommate that informs traffickers and let them kidnap the victim but it is usually someone the victim knows.
The third is called “Loverboy” this is when a predator becomes romantically involved with the victim and gains their trust. The victims are then sold into forced labor.
In South Africa trafficking victims are exploited through forced begging where any money received is taken by the trafficker, forced organ removal, forced and early marriage, forced adoption where children are sold or baby harvesting where babies are sexually exploited, or their organs are sold.​​​​​​​
Girls and women that are trafficked are typically used for sexual exploitation and forced domestic labor whereas boys and men are typically forced into working on farms and the street.
In South Africa, it is a norm to see people begging for money and it is assumed they have a drug addiction. It is highly likely that the people begging are being forced into it by traffickers who then take the money and give the victims drugs. Drugs are used as a weapon to ensure victims return to their traffickers and do not go to the police as they fear they would be prosecuted for consuming drugs.
If victims can escape there are still many obstacles they will face. According to S- Cape’s founder, who wanted to empower human trafficking victims, found that finding shelters and professionals to assist with the emotional, physical, and psychological trauma were extremely scarce. Many trafficking victims don’t have safe spaces to return to, their vulnerability is what makes them desirable to traffickers.​​​​​​​
For this reason, potential victims must be given proper work and skills opportunities, so they never fall prey to manipulation. They must also be provided with a safe space they can go when they feel they are being threatened.​​​​​​​
Human trafficking can be prevented by empowering the vulnerable and for victims, the same is needed. Human trafficking victims are not just victims and one difficult part of their lives does not define their story.
Help people who have experienced human trafficking gain their independence and freedom by donating, volunteering, and educating.
To report any cases of human trafficking in South Africa call 080 022 2777 or use www.0800222777.org.za to report and to get more information on how to help.
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