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An Introduction to Human Trafficking

By Kathleen Walsh

Oct 10, 2017 · 4 min read

Most of us are unaware that the second largest organised crime in the world is Human Trafficking. One of the features of Human Trafficking is its covertness; it is highly inconspicuous unless looked for. It happens wherever people exist: malls, churches, schools, and it favours no specific socio-economic class, country or race. It is everywhere, 54% of Human Trafficking cases involve strangers and the other 46% of cases involve someone the victim already knows.

Educating yourself and those around you is an important element for us to see Human Trafficking eradicated in our world today.

Human Trafficking is modern day slavery; trading in people with the intention of exploiting them. Exploitation could include using people for personal gain, for profits of large sums of money or for the use of free labour.

As per South African legislation, the following 3 components are necessary for a case to classify as trafficking:

1. Mobilization: Any person who delivers, recruits, transports, transfers, harbours, sells, exchanges, leases or receives another person within or across the borders of the Republic.

2. Means: By means of threat of harm, threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, the abuse of vulnerability, fraud, deception, abduction, kidnapping, the abuse of power, direct or indirect giving or receiving of payments or benefits to obtain the consent of a person having control or authority over another person, the direct or indirect giving or receiving of payments, compensation, rewards, benefits or any other advantage aimed at either the person or an immediate family member of that person or any other person in close relationship to that person.

3. Exploitation: For the purpose of any form or manner of exploitation.All forms of slavery, similar practices, sexual exploitation, servitude, forced labour, child labour, removal of body parts, forced impregnation with a purpose of selling the child, forced marriage for exploitation and adoption for exploitation.

“Human Trafficking is not a crime that calls out “Here I am!” It will often not
be seen if it is not looked for.” ~ A Tangled Web (MMA Report)

Types of Human Trafficking

1. Sexual Exploitation

Types of sexual exploitation:

  • Forced Prostitution
  • Pornography
  • Stripping
  • Exotic Dancing
  • Touch and Peep Shows
  • Escort Services
  • ‘Training’ to deal with clients who have particular fetishes

Industry examples include:

  • Brothels
  • “Massage” Parlours
  • Fetish Clubs
  • Classified Ads
  • “Gentlemen’s Clubs”

2. Child Exploitation

Any work that is unsuitable for the child and that will have negative impact on their social, mental, physical or emotional development.

Industry examples include:

  • Make Up (Mica Mineral)
  • Clothing
  • Carpets and Textile
  • War (Child Soldiers)
  • Coco Harvesting

3. Forced Labour

Difficult, dirty or dangerous jobs.

Industry examples include:

  • Fishing
  • Mining
  • Agricultural

4. Domestic Servitude:

  • Forced to work long hours (12–16 hour days)
  • Not allowed to leave, or call home
  • Often not paid
  • Often includes other abuse too.

Industry examples:

  • Private Homes
  • Hospitality Industry
  • Au Pair Industry

5. Forced Marriages

  • Often much older men abducting or buying much younger girls.
  • Distortion of traditional cultural practices.

6. Organ and Body Part Trafficking

This is the forced removal and illegal sale of organs / body parts.

Industry examples:

  • Black Market
  • “Muthi”
  • Medical Field (those willing to pay very high sums to skip the ‘system’)

How does this happen?

The local context and specific situation will determine who is most at risk and how they will be exploited.

Traffickers can be:

  • Gangs & Organised Crime Syndicates
  • Friends
  • Family Members
  • Acquaintances (someone who knows someone)
  • 54% of cases involve strangers vs 46% of cases involve someone the victim already knows.

Facilitators include:

  • Brothel & Strip Club Owners and Pimps
  • Transport Providers
  • Government oOfficials
  • Professional Individuals

Red Flags

The following Red Flags can be used to help identify potential Human Trafficking cases. If you have come across an incident that may have the following Red Flags it is important to report that to your local police station or to the HFW contact line.

  • No local dialects
  • New arrival in the country
  • Lack of documentation / documents controlled by someone else
  • Debt bondage
  • Child accompanied by an unrelated adult
  • Submissive / signs of fear / depression / extreme nervousness
  • Lack of freedom to move
  • Watched 24/7 or living with employer
  • Poor living conditions
  • Answers appear scripted or rehearsed
  • Give a vague / inconsistent explanation of where they live and work
  • Appears to move location frequently
  • Unpaid or paid very little
  • Stockholm Syndrome
  • Under 18 and in prostitution / providing commercial sex acts
  • Serious injuries left untreated & vague or reluctant to explain
  • Evidence of long term multiple injuries
  • Signs of physical abuse or general physical neglect
  • Branding tattoos
  • Indications of mental, physical or sexual trauma
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Pregnant / previous abortions
  • Drug addiction
  • Disordered eating or poor nutrition
  • Evidence of self-harm
  • Dental pain
  • Fatigue
  • Non-specific symptoms of PTSD
  • Symptoms of psychiatric and psychological distress
  • Back or stomach pain, skin problems, headaches and dizzy spells

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What can you do?

Be a Voice

Awareness is a huge need in South Africa — the average South African doesn’t know that Human Trafficking is a problem in our country. Email for more details on our Anti-Human Trafficking Workshops.

  • Book a Speaker
  • Cycle for Hope
  • Run for Hope
  • Raise awareness with your friends & family

Share Everything

  • Blog posts
  • Share on Facebook / Twitter / Social Media
  • Share with your company
  • Local newspaper / magazine

Connect With Us

Visit out website:

Follow us on Facebook: Hope For Women

Follow is on Instagram: HFW_SA

Follow is on Twitter: @HopeforWomenSA1

Hope For Women

We believe every person has a right to freedom, and we are…


Written by


Hope For Women

We believe every person has a right to freedom, and we are passionate about spreading the message of hope that can help bring about an end to slavery and help survivors shine again.


Written by


Hope For Women

We believe every person has a right to freedom, and we are passionate about spreading the message of hope that can help bring about an end to slavery and help survivors shine again.

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