On 30 July 2023, we will observe World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. This year’s theme from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is “Reach every victim of trafficking, leave no one behind”. The Western Cape Department of Social Development (WCDSD) aims to do just that.
Trafficking in persons violates our most fundamental human rights. Traffickers exploit and profit from adults or children by forcing them to perform labour or sexual acts. There are different types of trafficking of which the most prevalent is: forced labour, domestic servitude, and sexual exploitation.
During the 2022/2023 period, 11 survivors of human trafficking accessed accredited shelter services in the Western Cape. Most of the survivors are from Gauteng, who responded to a promise for work in Cape Town and ended up being sexually exploited.
WCDSD is responsible for accrediting safe houses to provide a safe space for victims.
Lily*, a social worker from the Department who counsels survivors of trafficking, says the most common form of trafficking in the province is sex trafficking.
Lily says: “Many trafficking victims will tell you they did not even know that they were being trafficked. In one case I counseled a young woman from Johannesburg who was lured to Cape Town with the promise of a job in a beauty salon. Once she arrived here, her phone and belongings were taken away. She was forced to do sex work.”
Social workers determine whether an individual is a survivor of trafficking as prescribed by the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act. WCDSD works with the National Prosecuting Authority, the South African Police Service, and the Department of Health to activate appropriate services when a survivor has been identified.
Shelter services provide a safe space where basic needs are met, as well as providing practical support, counselling, and skills development. The social worker also accompanies a survivor to court as part of the psychosocial care service; and provides support even after a survivor is reintegrated back into the community.
“It is usually individuals who are most vulnerable, like those living in poverty, who fall prey to traffickers. However, it can still happen to anyone, as these traffickers are smart and manipulative. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not just men who are the perpetrators, women also participate in luring victims. Often victims are enticed by lucrative-looking employment opportunities. I implore people to be cautious. If you see a job advertisement that seems too good to be true, please exercise caution and ensure that they are legitimate opportunities. If you are unsure, rather be safe and walk away,” says Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Western Cape Government: Department of the Premier.
This Press Release has been issued by APO. The content is not monitored by the editorial team of African Business and not of the content has been checked or validated by our editorial teams, proof readers or fact checkers. The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this announcement.
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