History of South Africa – Human Trafficking

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History of South Africa

Some scientists believe that South Africa may have been one of the earliest civilizations. When the Europeans first arrived there there were two indigenous groups, the Bushmen and Hottentots. in 1488 Bartholomeu Dias discovered the Cape of Good Hope and on Christmas Day of 1497 Vasco de Gama discovered Natal. The first European settlement was at the Cape in 1652 by the Dutch East India Co., who had the need for a stop on their route to the East. The Dutch began to import slaves due to the lack of farm labor. In 1814 the United Kingdom occupied the Cape. Free colored civilians were given the same legal and political status as Caucasians and in 1834 slavery was abolished. By 1897 Natal and the Cape had self-government. The Union of South Africa fought in World War I and joined the League of Nations. The apartheid lasted from 1948-1994. Pass laws were created that required blacks to carry internal passports or “reference books”. March 21, 1960 a black demonstration against these ended in 69 protesters being killed by the government. June 1976 a riot was broken up by police and 174 blacks died and 1,139 were injured. The UN Security Council approved a mandatory arms embargo for South Africa on the November 4, 1977. This was the first ever imposed on a nation. In the mid 1980’s the government removed the pass laws and laws that banned interracial relationships and marriages. However in July 1985 fighting continued between blacks and the government. By 1994 though the apartheid had ended. In a surprising twist South Africa made same-sex marriage legal on November 30, 2006.

History of Human Trafficking in South Africa

The apartheid had strict laws against homosexuality and inter-racial relationships. Because of this people had to find secretive ways to have sex in ways that the government could not find. This led to a rise in human trafficking and prostitution. Since the apartheid has passed human trafficking has been able to continue without being so harshly punished. South Africa has more “modern” cities and is at the foot of Africa, so it attracts people and migration from everywhere. South Africa’s issue with human trafficking was not widely broadcasted until about 2010, when the fears about the World Cup brought national awareness.

Human Trafficking in South Africa Now

Now South Africa has one of the highest amounts of human trafficking in the world. South Africa is a destination country for long-distance flows for people (mainly women) trafficked from places like Philippines, India, Russia, and China. This mainly done with OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. South Africa is also a heavy supplier of human trafficking to other African countries, such as Zimbabwe. Many people are taken to cities from rural areas.

Certain groups are at risk. Albinos are harvested for body parts because some individuals believe white skin has medical powers. Women and girls supply the biggest need for human trafficking, sexual exploitation. Younger girls have a high risk because of the desire in youth and the fact that they have less of a chance of already being infected with HIV. Men and older boys are used for manual labor. Surprisingly, people who live in South Africa have a lower risk of being kidnapped.

South Africans Helping with Human Trafficking

President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, stated that women and children may be targets of human traffickers, who often force their victims into prostitution or to work as laborers. In preparation of the games, he launched Child Protection Week and Children’s Act, which makes trafficking children against the law. He also closed down the schools from June 11-July 11, which is when the games were taking place.

Errol Naidoo is an activist and lobbyist who pushed hard to get the law passed about making trafficking minors a crime. He urged for it to be passed before the World Cup. He is the head of the Family Policy Institute in Cape Town. He is currently working for more prosecution on human traffickers.


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