Editor's Comment

Rise against human trafficking

HUMAN trafficking is a great source of worry for many countries, including Zambia. This concern must stir action to stop this slavery.
Human trafficking is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labour, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others.
According to the UN’s definition, human trafficking may encompass providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage or the extraction of organs or tissues, including for surrogacy and ova removal.
With the world becoming more connected due to technological advancements, crimes such as human trafficking have also been enhanced.
For instance, human trafficking can occur within a country or trans-nationally.
Unlike in the past, it is now much easier for human traffickers to connect to their victims regardless of geographical location.
It is therefore commendable that our law enforcement agencies are not sitting idly by, but equipping themselves with new skills and knowledge to handle sophisticated crimes such as human trafficking.
Forty Zambia Police officers recently underwent a three-day pre-deployment trafficking in persons training to equip them with necessary skills to curb trafficking in persons.
As rightly noted by Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja, world over, the number of trafficking in persons cases are on the increase.
It is however worrisome that statistics show that only few cases are reported, which is indicative of lack of knowledge about the scourge among the members of the public.
According to a Southern African Development Community and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report, approximately 1,217 victims of trafficking were reported by law enforcement agencies in member states between 2014 and 2017.
“In Zambia, statistics obtained from the Zambia Police Service Victim Support Unit recorded nine cases in 2017 and 31 in 2018 with Western Province recording the highest trafficking in persons cases standing at 74 percent of the reported cases last year,” Mr Kanganja said.
These statistics may just be a tip of the iceberg. Burying heads in the sand pretending all is well is a recipe for allowing the problem to be entrenched further.
The statistic recorded in Western Province raises a lot of security concerns around the border with Namibia.
It is evident that the porosity of the border in Western Province makes it easy for traffickers to move people into the neighbouring country.
This calls for tightening of security around the border areas to prevent illegal movement of people.
It is also common knowledge that these traffickers thrive on the poverty levels and ignorance of people, especially those in rural areas to lure them into their schemes.
These people are usually promised a better life through job offers and other economic incentives.
However, when they get to their destinations, they come to reality that they have been duped, but most of them have no way out.
These end up being used as cheap labourers and sex workers for the benefit of the traffickers or other clients.
Human trafficking is a serious crime because of the violation of the victims’ rights of movement through coercion and commercial exploitation.
Human trafficking comes with serious physical and mental torture. Those who fall victim suffer from low self-esteem, poor health, and death in some instances.
Human trafficking also tends to weaken society by depriving it of productive citizens. This is because most victims are between the ages of 15 and 30, according to research.
It therefore hinders development and families are devastated through loss of members.
The damage of human trafficking on victims is so much that even when withdrawn, most of them do not live up to be productive and responsible citizens. Most victims become moral wrecks.
Given that traffickers thrive on ignorance to lure their victims, there is need for heightened sensitisation on the prevalence of the vice. Citizens, especially those in rural areas, need to be alerted to be wary of strangers and in other instances acquaintances who promise jobs or better life in far-flung areas.
Parents need to be educated too, to protect their children from such vulnerabilities. It is obvious that for children to go out, they have the blessing of their parents. Parents should therefore take responsibility by not entrusting the lives of their children in the hands of strangers.
It is also worth noting that poverty is one of the factors that lead people to fall for such schemes.
It is therefore important for Government and other stakeholders to work together to reduce the levels of poverty which increase people’s vulnerability to human trafficking and other vices.

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