Why we are here
Child Trafficking in South Africa
Home of Hope for Girls was established as a response to the increased incidence of child trafficking in South Africa, especially related to sex trade. Trafficking and exploitation of children remains an under-reported crime on an international level, and this particularly in South Africa. While there are millions of victims, only a small proportion of these are reported each year. Child trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes worldwide, making the work of organisations like Home of Hope for Girls more important than ever before.
Child traffickers remove children from their protective environment for the purpose of exploitation. Studies show that children and young women with low educational levels, living in economically poor communities and seeking work are amongst the most vulnerable. In South Africa, the large number of children living in child-headed households, or living with grandparents or extended families, exacerbates this vulnerability. Child trafficking includes any part of the process of locating and recruiting children to transporting and receiving them. Traffickers target underage victims mainly for sexual exploitation, but also labour including begging and criminal acts such as pick-pocketing and shoplifting. In some cases, criminals pay agents to recruit children, often targeting orphans who are more vulnerable.
While trafficking implies movement across borders, much of the exploitation takes place close to home. South Africa is a primary source, destination and transit country with human trafficking occurring between provinces and across borders. Increasingly, children are trafficked from rural areas and handed over to their exploiters as high levels of poverty in South Africa leaves victims’ families vulnerable to promises of wealth.
The effects of child trafficking on its victims are life altering and sometimes life threatening. Children who are trafficked are exposed to many dangers, including working in hazardous environments, subject to disease and physical abuse. Many are denied the chance to reach their full potential because they do not receive an education or have the freedom to make their own choices. In addition to this, children experience detrimental effects to their mental and physical health, having suffered abuse and neglect for many years.
In order to truly combat child trafficking, it is necessary for key stakeholders such as the South African government and NGOs like Home of Hope for Girls to work together to identify abusers and protect those who are most vulnerable.