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Thursday, 23 November, 2000, 22:09 GMT
S Africa's child sex trafficking nightmare
World map
South Africa's trade in children touches many other countries
A report by a non-governmental organisation in South Africa says the trafficking of children for sex is on the rise there.

The report, by the Molo Songololo group, estimates that there are about 38,000 child prostitutes, with girls as young as four being sold to South Africans and foreigners for sex.


Trafficking of women and children into forced prostitution has now become the third largest source of profits for organised crime after drugs and guns

Director of Molo Songololo, Zurayah Abass
Researchers say there's been an increase in the abduction of children since the country became a democracy in 1994.

They link the rise with increased poverty and unemployment, which have seen families forcing children into prostitution as a source of income.

Virgin sex myth

The report says the southern African myth - that Aids can be prevented by having sex with a virgin - has also contributed to the increase, as has an increased demand among foreigners for sex with black children.

Children, particularly from Angola and Mozambique, end up as prostitutes on the streets of Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Children are also being tempted or trafficked from as far afield as Senegal, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda according to the report.

Gangsterism

The director of Molo Songololo, Zurayah Abass, said organised crime was deeply involved in the trade of children.

"Trafficking of women and children into forced prostitution has now become the third largest source of profits for organised crime after drugs and guns," she said.

Aids orphans in Zambia
Children orphaned by Aids are at risk
The report detailed the lives of 13 girls who had been kidnapped by a gangster and held prisoner.

They said they were tattooed with his name, beaten and gang-raped when they tried to leave.

They were taught to steal clients' money and firearms and were not given any of the money they earned.

International trade

The report says Angolan, Congolese and Nigerian syndicates are responsible for much of the trafficking.

But it is not just African children - the report also says criminal groups from Bulgaria and Thailand, Chinese triads and even the Russian mafia are involved.

Children from Eastern Europe, Thailand and China are being brought to South Africa and sold.

'Sex tourism'

Prosecutions for paedophilia are uncommon in South Africa and campaigners are concerned that the country could become an increasingly popular "sex tourism" destination.

Other countries previously known for "sex tourism" have recently clamped down on offenders.

A British headmaster was imprisoned in Cambodia this week for filming very young girls performing sexual acts and last month a Frenchman was imprisoned for child rape during a "sex holiday" in Thailand.

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See also:

07 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan clamps down on child porn
20 Oct 00 | Europe
Sex 'tourist' gets seven years
19 Jun 00 | Europe
Trafficking: A human tragedy
06 Aug 99 | Africa
West Africa's child slave trade
17 Jun 99 | World
Child slavery ban agreed
23 Feb 00 | Americas
Crackdown on sex slavery
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