Activists tackle human trafficking

Back from left are runners Hilton Murray and Vicus van der Merwe, of the Bellville Athletics Club. In front are runner Tiaan Roodt; Anex programme director Claudia Burger; campaign ambassador Nedine Blom; Thamar Jacobs, of Bloubergstrand Social Work Services; and Franselene Krause, of Melkbos Athletics Club.

Activists and athletes are joining forces to run a “notorious” human-trafficking highway in aid of the victims of this modern-day form of slavery.

Thirteen runners from the Melkbos and Bellville athletics clubs are part of the Unite Against Human Trafficking campaign, which involves Activists Networking Against the Exploitation of Children (ANEX), the 1000 Women Trust and Bloubergstrand Social Work Services.

The run, from Tuesday December 5 to Friday December 8, covers 375km from Rawsonville to Beaufort West and aims “to claim back the N1 route, notorious for human trafficking”.

The participants will stay over in small towns along the route, speaking to locals about the dangers of human trafficking.

“The N1 is one of the routes used by traffickers to transport their victims from their home towns to other towns, normally the bigger cities, or across border and then exploit them whether through labour or sexual exploitative practices,” said Thamar Jacobs, from Bloubergstrand Social Work Services.

She said poverty and inequality in communities along the N1 made them vulnerable to human trafficking, which was seen as an escape from desperate circumstances.

Claudia Burger, the programme director at Anex, said human trafficking “doesn’t discriminate” and they wanted to strengthen relationships in families.

“The reason why we need to strengthen family ties is because these traffickers use some of these broken relationships to their advantage. They often coerce young girls too with the promise of love and attention and they play onto the needs of these girls,” said Ms Burger. Contact Claudia Burger at 083 587 3269 or at programmedirector@anexcdw.org.za to find out more about the campaign.