Earlier in the year we announced that Not For Sale South Africa had joined forces with Mxit, Africa’s largest social networking service, to fight human trafficking in the region. Not For Sale advertised a survey on the site in order to gain an understanding as to the level of knowledge of human trafficking in South Africa. Users who clicked the link were asked 11 ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions regarding human trafficking, both in general and regionally specific. A toll-free number was also provided at the end of the survey, so users could report instances of modern-day slavery. The results, we found, were positive. A total of 2,851 people took the survey and our analysis is taken from a sample size of 498 individuals.
When asked general questions on human trafficking pertaining to the definition, a large majority acknowledged the correct definition of it being the ‘buying and selling of human beings for the purpose of exploitation.’ There was a slightly smaller number, but still a majority, who also acknowledged the exploitative processes of recruitment and debt. These majorities ranged from 65% – 85% of the sample size. We found that whilst many were confident in their knowledge of broad definitions as well as the growing sex trade in South Africa, the idiosyncrasies of recruitment led to the results closer to the lower end of the aforementioned range.
Perhaps most significantly though, was the relatively constant majority who were able to detect situations of human trafficking in regional specific questions. For example:
A young boy from the Eastern Cape needs money to help his family buy food. An uncle tells him of a job in Cape Town where he can make enough money to send some home to his mother and sisters. He boards a taxi van with other young boys thinking he is going to Cape Town, but instead he is taken to a farm where he is forced to work long hours with no pay. If he tries to escape, he is beaten. Is this human trafficking?
Notably, the overwhelming majority were able to detect this situation as human trafficking. Whilst perhaps for many involved within the anti-trafficking space this might be more clear-cut, the ability to detect this as specifically human trafficking and not only child abuse is hugely significant. It shows that human trafficking is being seen as a separate and serious crime and it shows that awareness of the issue has reached a stable and much improved level from when Not For Sale first began working in South Africa.
Not For Sale started outreach initiatives in South Africa in 2010, during the FIFA World Cup, by implementing the red-card campaign. Since then, we have grown to assist law enforcement in the detection and protection of victims of human trafficking and recently opened the Victims Assistance Center, to allow a safe and stable environment for the immediate care of survivors.
The results may show a marked validation of Not For Sale’s outreach efforts, still the need for continued detection work in the region is pivotal. According to the 2012 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, whilst there have been efforts to improve prevention, protection and prosecution, there is still a high incidence of human trafficking in the country. With high incidence, the need to be able to detect and support survivors of trafficking is of paramount importance. Without the joint efforts of outreach, detection and rehabilitation, survivors of human trafficking in South Africa face either being re-trafficked, or not being detected in the first place.