Human Trafficking: How to Spot It
With all the missing people’s stories (especially missing young women) in the news recently, there have also been stories of human trafficking that have come along with it. Human trafficking is a terrible and real occurrence that happens in South Africa every day. Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery Chomas and it involves people abducting, luring or pressuring victims for the purpose of using them for forced labour or forced sexual acts for money. Women, men and children have all been victims of human trafficking. Women are the most likely to be trafficked and forced to become sex slaves, prostitutes, workers or even street beggars.
Many women who are trafficked are forcibly kidnapped, while some women are lured into dangerous situations (even by people they know). You may have read a few stories recently about women who were kidnapped and forced into cars. Some women managed to escape through quick-thinking when they saw opportunities. Unfortunately, many women were not as lucky.
Here’s how to spot human trafficking so that you can save yourself and possibly someone else.
Women have been forcibly kidnapped while walking on the street. You shouldn’t have to be restricted when you go out and it may seem unfair that you always have to be on the lookout, but for your own safety, try not to walk alone - especially in quiet areas. Always be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. People are often distracted by their phones or other little things when walking. Make sure that you’re aware of what’s going on around you so that you can spot when something is off. If you notice a person or a car following you, alert someone you trust immediately. Go into the nearest building and wait for the person or car to leave. Alert someone in the building that you’re being followed or call someone to pick you up if you can. Also, let someone you know that you’re going out and what time they can expect you to arrive at your destination.
Some people who are trafficked are approached by strangers offering them a job or some kind of opportunity (like a modeling or singing career). Traffickers can approach you anywhere, on social media, at school, in the mall and even outside your house. Some traffickers might try to befriend you or form a relationship with you so that you trust them enough. Women can also be traffickers Choma. Women are often used to lure victims because women seem more trusting than men. Traffickers usually prey on young people who are in vulnerable situations.
Be careful of people you’ve recently met who offer you things out of the blue. Also, be suspicious of strangers who approach you after you’ve posted something personal on your social media profile and their suddenly offering you help, advice, money, a place to stay or a job opportunity. If you’re getting random messages from people on social media, check your privacy settings, turn off your location settings on social media and only make your posts visible to your friends (not to the public). Also avoid checking in to places on social media (while you’re at the place especially).
Traffickers also prey on young people who run away from home. If you’re having trouble at home, instead of running away and putting yourself at risk of being kidnapped or lured into dangerous, life-threatening situations by traffickers, rather seek help. You can seek counseling by calling
Childline on 0800 055 555 or the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) on 0800 12 13 14
If you’re in a dangerous situation at home and need shelter, call one of those numbers so that they can direct you to a safe shelter.
Even if it is a boyfriend, girlfriend or friend telling you to run away with them Choma, for your own safety, don’t do it.
Identifying someone who has been trafficked
If you’re concerned that a young person is being trafficked, here are a few signs that they might actually be:
- They have marks on their body (burns, bruises, cuts) that show they might be physically abused
- They’re afraid of speaking to anyone, especially authority figures
- They’re afraid to talk about where they live or don’t seem to know their surroundings very well
- They abuse some form of substance (drugs, alcohol)
- There is always someone near them and they seem afraid of that person. They might even appear to be in a relationship with the person. This could be their trafficker.
- They have a limited freedom of movement
- They don’t have any form of identification (ID or passport) or they say someone else has their ID/passport
- You see them getting in and out of different cars often
These signs individually might point to something else and won’t necessarily mean that someone is being trafficked. But if you see most of these signs, then it could be pointing to the fact that the person is in danger. These might only be a few signs that someone is being trafficked but if you suspect that they are, contact authorities as soon as you can. Even if you suspect that there is a brothel (a place, usually a house or building, where prostitution takes place) nearby, report it. The women or girls in the brothel could possibly be trafficked.
You can contact:
South African National Human Trafficking Resource Line: 0800 222 777
ChildLine: 0800 55 555
LifeLine: 0800 150 150 / 0861 322 322 (check)
Safeline: 0800 035 553 (check)
Anex – National Human Trafficking Helpline: 0800 555 999
Salvation Army – Human Trafficking Helpline: 08000 73728
Film Publications Board (FPB) – Report Child Pornography Hotline: 0800 148 148
Child Welfare – Helpline: 086 142 44 53
Department of Social Development – Helpline: 0800 220 250
Missing Children South Africa: 072 647 7464
If you need advice or help, remember that you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657)
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