Editor's Comment

Human trafficking bigger than meets the eye

THAT two Zambian hairdressers were trafficked to South Africa on the pretext that they would be offered jobs as hairdressers in that country is not only worrying but evidence of the levels of ignorance and vulnerability among women.
It is saddening that women have continued falling prey to human traffickers who entice them with good jobs and other lucrative economic incentives in far flung areas.
In the case of the two women, Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa Jackson Miti said they reported to the mission in Pretoria of having been trafficked to that country.
The victims were duped that once transported to that country, they would work in hair salons but were forced into prostitution after a few weeks of working as hair dressers.
According to Major-General Miti, the likely possibility is that the numbers of people duped could be higher as most of the victims had their travel documents confiscated and blackmailed, hence making it difficult for them to get in touch with authorities.
Certainly the challenge of human trafficking is much bigger than what is reported.
As rightly noted by Gen Miti, human trafficking victims are usually caged such that they have no contact with the outside world.
Human traffickers usually present themselves as messiahs to their would-be victims by offering what may be seen as an answered prayer.
They target women who are struggling in life and promise them jobs and a luxurious life. While the common known kind of trafficking is one that involves victims being trafficked out of the country, the vice also takes place locally.
Victims are moved from one locality to another which they are usually not familiar with.
The traffickers settle all travel costs, including securing a passport if the agenda is to transport the victim beyond borders.
At the time of enticing their victims’ traffickers masquerade as angels of light, yet they are actually devils inside.
To cast out any shade of doubt, sometimes these human traffickers work with local people who are known.
They use these local people to make contacts and convince their victims that the opportunities being offered are genuine.
Unfortunately for victims, they only come to realise that they have been duped when they are right in the dungeons of these fraudsters.
It is only after they have reached their destinations that the victims realise that they have actually been trafficked.
Instead of the decent jobs they were promised, they are forced into prostitution, pornography and even bestiality.
For those who have been captured, it is difficult to escape because their passports, phones and anything that would aid them to contact the outside world is taken away from them.
They are kept under lock and key. Others die under such custody while only a few are lucky to escape under miraculous circumstances.
It is therefore indisputable that the incident of the two women who were trafficked to South Africa is only a tip of the iceberg. There is much more human trafficking happening, only that the victims remain caged and their cases unreported.
While we are happy that these two women have escaped, our hearts go out to the many women who remain caged in those dungeons as sex slaves.
Given that these traffickers thrive on people’s ignorance about the vice to dupe them, there is certainly need for heightened sensitisation.
This sensitisation should be done in families, communities, churches, and schools among other platforms.
At family level, those who are enlightened should act as gatekeepers to prevent loss of members through such schemes.
Family members who are better informed about the vice should sensitise other members to be wary of human traffickers and any lucrative offers of jobs in far-flung areas.
The media too have a role to play to sensitise the public.
People offered opportunities in other countries will do well to contact the embassy in the country of destination to just confirm the genuineness of the offers.
If many people did due diligence before embarking on such escapades, they would be spared.
People should understand that regardless of the hardships they are faced with, they are safer and better off sticking around and working their way to success.
It is true that in the same environment which is considered harsh, others are making it out of pure hard work.
In Zambia a lot of entrepreneurs have been birthed and many women in particular are making a difference in their families and nation as a whole through genuine businesses.
Women should desist from falling for easy and fast ways of making money.
Genuine money and success comes with a lot of sweat. Anything that seems to present money and success on a silver platter should be interrogated.
If all women could reason in this manner, cases of human trafficking would be drastically reduced.
It is hoped that many will draw lessons from the two women to prevent falling in the same trap.

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