SA Report:Trafficking focus takes light off other issues


Claims exaggerating the danger of human trafficking during the Soccer World Cup have resulted in the sidelining of other important social issues, the University of the Witwatersrand’s forced migration studies programme has found.

Programme director Professor Loren Landau said that despite “alarming” radio and television advertisements, there had been little evidence suggesting high volumes of human trafficking in South and southern Africa.

“Nor does local or comparative evidence indicate that a major sporting event is likely to increase these volumes,” he said in a statement.

The programme’s latest “Migration Issue Brief 4: Human Trafficking and Migration” refuted what it felt were exaggerated claims about the crime.

“Before the 2006 Soccer World Cup, media reports and [Non-Governmental Organisations] claimed that 40 000 women and children would be trafficked into Germany,” said Landau.

“Yet, in research conducted after the 2006 World Cup, researchers found evidence of only five cases of trafficking,” he said.

“Considering the limited evidence for trafficking into South Africa, the attention the issue has received in policy prioritisation and media reporting appears disproportionate.

“This undue emphasis diverts attention and resources from other issues and creates several blind spots.”

Therefore, other human rights abuses and social ills remained unmonitored and this would have long-term consequences on the region.

There was also confusion between the terms trafficking and sex work.

Trafficking was when people were brought across a border, usually with the promise of a job, and then their passports were confiscated until they paid a certain amount of money. Sex work was often done by choice.

Landau said the money and effort spent on highlighting trafficking could be better spent raising awareness on reporting rape, sexual abuse and labour exploitation.

The International Organisation for Migration had spent lots of money trying to trace people who had been trafficked over the past few years, but could only find a “few hundred people” people.

This was not insignificant, but was not on the scale that had been claimed or warned of, Landau said. –Sapa

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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