Columnists Features

How to identify a human trafficker

IN 2013, Simon Bobo’s first born daughter was abducted in South Africa by some individuals for some unknown reasons. Fortunately, with help from the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria and the South African Police Service, she was rescued.
In hindsight, Mr Bobo and family believe that it was an organised crime syndicate used to extort money out of their target victims.
It is out of this experience that, as a family (Kabalu Alice Bobo, Angelique Bobo and Simon Bobo), they decided to write a booklet that could possibly enlighten other young women and girls who might find themselves in a similar situation.
The booklet, titled How to Identify a Human Trafficker, is not for sale but is available to those who need it through the Facebook page of Kab Centre for Teenage Support, a centre started in honour of their daughter Kabalu Alice Bobo (KAB). The objective of KAB is to create a platform for teenagers and youths to come up with solutions for the present day problems such as human trafficking.
In the foreword, the authors state that the booklet has been written with the teenager of today in mind.
“A teenager is a completely different youth from others because this is when any human being reaches a ‘rock and a hard place’ or what you might call ‘crossroads’. At this time in any human life, a human being does not know whether they are adults or still a child,” they write.
“It is a period in any human’s life that is extremely confusing. If a teenager fails to navigate through this phase of their lives properly, their whole future is doomed and the nation’s leadership and future as it were, destroyed.”
Rightly so, the authors admit that the booklet may not be able to explain everything about human trafficking. Rather, they give tips on how to identify a possible human trafficker, abductor or kidnapper and sophisticated criminals from organised crime syndicates.
“[We are] writing in the hope that you will be aware about this scourge and that you will be motivated to make a difference for our girls.”
They start by explaining what human trafficking is, and then go on to explain how domestic human trafficking usually works.
“Domestic trafficking is usually done within a country or internationally by people known to the victim i.e relatives, family friends or life/religious mentors. In most cases, the victim is promised a job abroad or locally, just to end up in slavery or prostitution,” they write.
“Sometimes, the victim is promised tertiary education through a church or so called ministries abroad by a life mentor or a spiritual father/mother just to end up in forced labour and sometimes these victims are then abandoned.”
After domestic trafficking, they tackle trans-national human trafficking; perpetuated by organised crime syndicates spread all over the world.
“…It is a multi-billion dollar illegal business and so sophisticated in its execution such that at the end of it all, it looks as if the victim is the one to blame for ending up in the hands of these heartless human traffickers,” they write.
“Usually, their target is your beautiful, young women with model looks. This man would promise them heaven on earth and sometimes even marriage. With abject poverty, naivety, lack of economic opportunities and desperation on the part of most young women and boys, they accept these kinds of propositions.
“When he goes back to the country he came from, he will start inviting them one by one by sending them air tickets. These girls would leave their countries with the hope to go and meet this man and find a job or marriage as promised.”
The authors say it is extremely rare to retrieve these girls from these syndicates with statistics showing that only one third of these victims survive.
The authors then go to give tips on identifying a human trafficker.
“Be aware of a person that encourages you to break family rules, encouraging animosity within your home and introducing animosity within your home and introducing you to illegal activities,” they advise.
“Be wary of a person offering you expensive gifts and money as this is a way to trap and make you feel as though you owe them. They want you to become indebted to them.
“Be wary of who you meet on the internet. Do not meet up with people that you only know from social media, but if you decide to do so, do not meet them alone or at a private place. Remember that not all that glitters is gold. So, if this person seems to be out of a fairy tale, then the whole thing is probably just a story and is completely false.”
Some of the advice is obviously basic such as not walking alone during dark hours or accepting lifts from people you do not know.
From there, they offer some advice on what to do in the event that you might be kidnapped.
“If the kidnapper is unarmed, throw yourself to the ground to avoid being dragged away easily. From there, you start screaming and acting wild… kicking, punching etc. If you can injure the kidnapper, do so. If the kidnapper gets injured, get up and run away as fast as possible,” the authors write.
“If the kidnapper is armed, do not try to fight. Pretend that you are willing to do whatever the kidnapper says then once you are close enough and you decide to attack them, be tactful, intelligent, quick with your elbows, knees, teeth, forehead and whatever you can find.”
As the book is written by Christians, there is a lot of counselling, particularly for the young people. For instance, they talk about how going to church, singing, praying and talking about the word of God is no longer good enough but acknowledging God as the ultimate power is the way to face life’s challenges.
The advice given is not coming exactly from kidnap and crisis negotiation experts but purely based on their experiences.
But obviously, a detailed account on the kidnap and rescue of Kabalu can even make reading more fascinating.KK

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