There are over 27 million men, women and children being held as slaves today, says Cornel Viljoen, a volunteer for the anti-human trafficking organisation, A21 Campaign.
Ms Viljoen spoke at the Greater Table View Action Forum (GTAF) meeting at Sunningdale Primary School, last week.
The open meeting was streamed live on Facebook– a first for GTAF- and had close to a hundred viewers tuning in.
Ms Viljoen said the A21 Campaign wanted to abolish human trafficking and one way to do that was to “disrupt the demand”.
“Human trafficking is the second largest organised crime in the world after drugs,” she said.
Drugs and weapons could only be sold once “but people could be sold over and over again.”
According to the A21, trafficking can take several forms:
Sex trafficking — forcing, deceiving, or coercing a person to perform a commercial sex act.
Forced labour — forcing a person to work in captivity for little or no pay.
Bonded labour — forcing a person to work for low wages to pay back an impossible debt.
Involuntary domestic servitude — forcing a person to work and live in the same place for little or no pay.
Child soldiers — forcing a child to participate in an armed force.
Traffickers have various methods to recruit victims, but one of the most common is making false promises of employment.
Ms Viljoen said overseas job offers or education opportunities should be treated with caution because it could be difficult to get out of a foreign land where you don’t speak the language or know your way around, if the offer turned out to be bogus.
She played a short clip of a human trafficker, Jacob, who was part of a syndicate that recruited girls from Thailand to be exploited in South Africa.
In the clip, Jacob talks about the “break-in process” where the girls are tied to a toilet for days without food or water. They are offered drugs to numb them. If they don’t break, men are brought in to rape them. On Saturday October 20, the A21 Campaign will have a freedom walk in the City Bowl. The walk is a global awareness event and takes place in 50 countries.
“Modern-day slavery exists. If you suspect it, report it,” said Ms Viljoen.
Ward 107 councillor Nicky Rheeder, speaking as a volunteer for Missing Child South Africa, an NGO, said a child went missing every five hours in South Africa and parents should know what to do if their child became one of them.
Report the child missing immediately. There is no waiting period to report a child or adult. The first 24 hours after a person goes missing are the most crucial.
Keep an updated photo of your child. If you’re going to the beach or a mall, take a photo of your child so that if they go missing the photo will show exactly what they were last seen wearing.
Complete and sign a SAPS 55(A) form. This gives SAPS permission to distribute a photo and information about your child. It is also important to take the investigating officer’s number and to communicate with them.
Have a buddy system to prevent children walking alone or going alone to mall bathrooms etc. Stick together, go out together, return together.
Have a family password. Parents should have a password they tell their children in case someone has to fetch them at school. If the person fetching them knows the password it is safe for them to leave with that person.
Have a plan: Teach your children from a young age what to do if they get lost in a store. They can either go to a security guard or cashier’s desk and wait for you to get them there. For more information about Missing Children SA call 072 647 7464 or visit www.missingchildren.org.za
The South African National Human Trafficking Resource Line is 0800 222 777. For more information about the A21 Campaign, email: info.sa@A21.org