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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 15:40 GMT
SA sex trafficking widespread
Prostitute
Some girls are sold on to European sex rings
South Africa is the regional centre of a pervasive trafficking ring of women and children for the sex industry, says an international NGO.

Local syndicates as well as global Chinese triad and Russian organized crime gangs are involved, says the International Organisation for Migration.

The trade in southern Africa is being fuelled by economic deprivation and civil unrest, it stated.

The IMO are calling on governments in the region to make human trafficking a criminal offence as well as provide awareness and training for officials as a way to bear down on the growing exploitative and lucrative sex industry.

The report compiled in Pretoria was based on 232 interviews with victims and traffickers from 11 countries, as well as officials from governments, police and the media.

Frenzy for fantasies

"White, Afrikaans-speaking men" abduct street-children in Lesotho, bring them across the border into South Africa, and assault them for days in "a feeding frenzy for fantasies of hatred, humiliation and revenge," the report says.

Women from Moscow and Bulgaria in eastern Europe and Thailand in Asia are also being trafficked by international criminal groups, to work in high class brothels in South Africa.

Some 1,000 Mozambicans aged between 14 and 24 are smuggled every year to Johannesburg where they are forced to work in restaurants or as prostitutes.

They usually pay their traffickers $65 each for smuggling them across the border. Many are then assaulted and sold on to brothels and as slaves.

Videos

In Malawi European sex tourists recruit girls and boys from holiday resorts along Lake Malawi.

According to IOM, some Malawian parents are paid by sex agents who also dangle the prospects of better educational opportunities in Europe for their offspring.

Such victims, the report says, are "featured in pornographic videos that are transmitted over the internet with victims' names and contact details included".

"In Europe, the children are sexually exploited in private homes, and are sold to paedophile rings," the report added.

Businesswomen in Malawi, according to the report, play a major role in the selling of women and girls as sex slaves in the West.

Some are taken to the Netherlands, where they are then sold on to Nigerian traffickers for $10,000 each.

There, as elsewhere, the victims are ordered to work as prostitutes to pay off their debt which can sometimes be as high as $40,000.

The report also says that the so-called recruits are in turn sold or rented to other Nigerian agents working in Belgium, Italy and Germany.




SEE ALSO:
Tackling the human traffickers
09 Sep 02 |  UK News
Cape Town: Sun, sea...and sex
20 Sep 99 |  Africa


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