RISK FACTORS CHANGED DURING COVID-19
According to Jeffery the risk factors changed during Covid-19 due to higher levels of unemployment and loss of family income.
“It must be noted that although the numbers are not large, SA is seeing an increasing number of trafficking convictions. There is no significant evidence of citizens travelling abroad and to SA for child sex tourism,” he said.
He furthermore said the convictions provided significant insights.
“Children are the most at risk for sex trafficking and forced labour. The vulnerabilities identified were more prevalent in girl children. Children at higher risk were from parents who were in conflict in their relationships or from parents who have disadvantaged themselves or were victims of substance abuse.
“Some parents were responsible for trafficking their children for purposes of sexual exploitation due to loss of income as a result of Covid-19. Some parents seek work on farms but they do not want to be rescued from traffickers because they want to preserve their employment.
“Children were exploited for purposes including sexual exploitation, drug trafficking, and forced marriages,” he said.
Jeffery said the border closures and movement restrictions of migrants had reduced many activities that have severely disrupted trafficking activities.
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According to the South African National Human Trafficking Hotline, SA is a source, transit, and destination country for victims of trafficking.
“Our country has become a prime destination for international trafficking syndicates to operate.
“Currently, stats show that only 1% of all victims are ever rescued.”
THE APPROACHES TRAFFICKERS USE TO LURE VICTIMS:
Fake job offers, mainly for jobs abroad. When the person arrives, they find that the conditions are different from the ones advertised in the job offer – Often, the victim’s ID is taken away, and they are forced into labor or sexual exploitation.
Loverboy – the trafficker courts the victim and pretends to be falling in love with her. Once he earns the victim’s trust, he sells her to be sexually exploited. The Internet, especially social networking sites, is the most used tool by traffickers to research and select potential victims.
CRIMES OFTEN RELATED TO TRAFFICKING:
- Forced begging
- Forced organ removal
- Forced and early marriages
- Forced adoption
- Baby harvesting
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