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Thursday, 22 November 2012 I For immediate release
The Salvation Army has again called on the public to report suspected cases of human trafficking through its hotline, 08000 73728.
The call was made on the eve of the annual “16 days of activism against gender violence”, which starts on 25 November and runs to 10 December. The 16 day period includes World AIDS Day (1 December) and International Human Rights Day (10 December).
Information received via The Salvation Army’s hotline is referred to the South African Police Service for investigation. To date, tip-offs received via this number have resulted in several breakthroughs in the fight against human trafficking.
The Southern African Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army, Commissioner William Langa, notes that human trafficking is a form of violence against women and children.
“The exploitation of women and children for purposes of prostitution or some other form of sexual slavery is an affront to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who lived and preached a ministry emphasising the dignity of all people.
“Members of the public can make an important contribution in the fight against this scourge by being vigiIant about what is going on in their neighbourhoods, and by reporting suspicious activity through our confidential hotline. Your call could save someone’s life,” Commissioner Langa added.
The Salvation Army’s anti-human trafficking co-ordinator, Major Margaret Stafford, says that a call was recently made to the hotline from a desperate mother whose daughter was trying to get free from the house in Pretoria where she had been locked up by her handler.
Within the space of two days of receiving the call, the SAPS had conducted a raid on the house and the daughter was rescued and returned to her family in Cape Town, where she was checked into a rehabilitation centre and her family given counselling.
Another call was received from a woman in Mount Frere, Eastern Cape, who had been unable to contact the police to report her suspicions about human trafficking. Major Stafford was able to make contact with the SAPS on her behalf and refer them to the case.
Not For Sale, an international organisation that fights human trafficking and modern-day slavery around the world, has been running a survey on MIXIT, the instant mobile messaging application popular amongst young people, and has included The Salvation Army’s hotline number at the end of the survey.
“We are hopeful that young people will start to make use of the hotline during the upcoming holiday period,” Major Stafford said.
Another case involved the reporting of a brothel at which underage girls were being offered to men for sexual purposes. This led to a raid on the brothel by the SAPS.
Major Stafford said that the hotline’s reporting structures to the SAPS had been improved through co-operation with the National Freedom Network.
Human trafficking is defined as the movement of women and children, usually from one country to another but sometimes within a country, for prostitution or sexual slavery. It includes the recruitment, transportation, harbouring, transfer or sale of women and children for these purposes.
Most sexual trafficking also includes some form of coercion such as kidnapping, threats, intimidation, assault, rape, drugging or other forms of violence.
An expert who has been studying the issue of sexual trafficking for 20 years at Harvard University, Dr Laura Lederer, reports that over the last ten years, the numbers of women and children who have been trafficked have multiplied so that they are now on par with estimates of the numbers of Africans who were enslaved in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Human trafficking is the second largest profit-making crime in the world next to drug trafficking. There are approximately 27 million people enslaved in the world today.
People most vulnerable to human trafficking are children, teenagers, young women, refugees and job seekers. These people are preyed upon in various ways and are tricked into going somewhere with their traffickers, and subsequently held against their will.
The Southern Africa Territory of The Salvation Army encompasses four countries – South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland – and the island of St Helena. Its officers, soldiers and full-time employees provide their spiritual and community services through approximately 230 corps (churches), societies and outposts, as well as through schools, hospitals, institutions for children, street children, the elderly, men and abused women, and daycare, goodwill, rehabilitation and social centres.
ISSUED BY QUO VADIS COMMUNICATIONS ON BEHALF OF THE SALVATION ARMY
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