What is HUMAN trafficking?

It is the movement of women and children, usually from one country to another but sometimes within a country, for purposes of prostitution or some other form of sexual slavery. It includes the recruitment, transportation, harbouring, transfer, or sale of women and children for these purposes. Most sexual trafficking also includes some form of coercion – such as kidnapping, threats, intimidation, assault, rape, drugging or other forms of violence.


Alarming Facts:
Of the estimated 2,000,000 persons trafficked each year, Africa accounts for 450,000.



  • Nigeria: Between 1999 and 2000 over 1180 trafficked girls were repatriated to Nigeria. This does not include those who were not caught, the dead and the maimed, and those sick with AIDS.


  • USA: Between 18,000 and 20,000 of victims are trafficked into the United States. This estimate includes men, women, and children trafficked into forced labour and sexual exploitation.


  • Mexico: Children from Mexico are sold to brothels in the U.S.A.


  • India: Almost 200,000 Nepali girls, many under the age of 14, are sexual slaves in India.


  • Sri Lanka: 10,000 children between 6-14 are virtually enslaved in brothels in Sri Lanka.


  • Cambodia: I5,000 children were sold into sexual slavery in Cambodia between 1991 -97.


  • Thailand: The Thai government reports that 60,000 Thai children are sold into prostitution. NGO experts estimate there are 800,000. 20,000 women and girls from Burma have been forced into prostitution in Thailand.


  • Soviet Union/ Israel: An estimated 10,000 women from the former Soviet Union have been forced into prostitution in Israel.


  • The Netherlands: Of 155 cases of forced prostitution brought to court in the Netherlands, only four resulted in conviction of the traffickers.


  • UK: The UK Home Office reports that in 1998 (the number is believed to have risen dramatically 1,400 women were trafficked into the UK for exploitation. It is “thought” that a similar number of children are trafficked into the UK for exploitation as prostitutes, child labour, or for criminal gangs and benefit fraud. 
UNICEF ’Stop the Traffic in Children'

Facts on human trafficking

  • Human trafficking is the 2nd largest profit-making crime in the world next to drug trafficking. There are approximately 27 million people enslaved in the world today.
  • People most vulnerable to human trafficking are children, teenagers, young women, refugees and job seekers. These people are preyed upon in various ways and are literally tricked into going somewhere with their traffickers, and subsequently held against their will.

People are trafficked for:

  • Labour exploitation/slave labour (One is paid very little; the other is not paid at all) This includes offers of jobs such as childminding (au pair), hairdressing, modeling and hotel work etc)
  • Prostitution (usually paid very little), sexual slavery (not paid)
  • Forced marriage (In South Africa, women are often forced to marry mine workers or young girls are forced to marry older men)

Be wary of the following situations. Regard them as potentially dangerous:

How to prevent being trafficked

  • An attractive job is offered to you that is far away from home — in another province or country. It may be a modelling contract, a waitressing job, or a contract with a soccer club. These offers may appear in newspapers or you may hear of them via word of mouth.
  • No qualifications are required and free housing and transport is offered with the job, plus the free processing of your visa and/or work permit.
  • The people you are dealing with organise for you to cross a border illegally.
  • A friend or relative offers to send you to an expensive/good school that is far from home and offers to pay your school fees.
  • Travel documents that were obtained by illegal means, are given to you.
  • A recruitment agent tells you that a visitor’s or tourist visa is good enough for working purposes.
  • Someone with whom you are chatting on MXIT wants to meet with you face to face (to offer you work or a free holiday or an academic scholarship)

Victims of trafficking are almost always introduced to the trafficker by someone they know!

How to ensure that a prospective employer is genuine:

  • Call them on a LAND line to confirm they are a legitimate company and are recruiting. (Be wary of a company that has only a cell number or free web-based email address, such as Hotmail, Yahoo, Google mail etc.)
  • Sign a contract with your employer before you leave your home country. A good employer would not object to this. The contract should state your terms of employment (i.e. wages, costs deducted for travel expenses and housing, your duties, working hours). You can do this through email or regular mail. You can even ask your employer for references.
  • Before accepting a job in a foreign country, check on the immigration website and find out for yourself what the visa requirements are.

Other important tips to protect yourself from being trafficked

  • Travel with contacts. Carry the number of your embassy in the country to which you are relocating. Inform your embassy when you arrive. Have a list of phone numbers of friends or contacts in the host country. Call them when you arrive.
  • Travel with an emergency plan. Provide your family members back home with all of your contact details. Call them and give them your new phone number and address when you arrive, as well as the phone number of your embassy and the local police. Should something go wrong and you lose contact with them, or they cannot reach you, have them call your embassy, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the local police on your behalf.
  • Travel with a copy of your passport. Do not give your passport to anyone! It is illegal for your employer to ask to hold your passport for any reason.
  • Know your rights. No one has the right to force you to do something or keep you against your will. If you are trafficked, you are the victim of a crime. You may have entered a country illegally, but you still have rights. You may be in “debt” to your trafficker, but this is not a legal debt. You do not have to honour it. If your human rights are being violated, you are the victim of a crime.

How to help prevent trafficking in your community

  • Tell your friends and neighbours how to protect themselves from being trafficked.
  • Learn to recognize trafficked persons.
    • They are often unable to speak the local language.
    • They appear to be trapped in their job or the place they stay.
    • They may have bruises and other signs of physical abuse.
    • They do not have identification documents (passport, ID, refugee or asylum papers).
  • Report places where you suspect trafficked people are kept (for example, brothels,farms, factories, shebeens) to the local authorities and the media.
  • Report people you suspect may be traffickers to the local authorities (police, NGOs) and the media.