TRAFFICKING in persons has been determined and condemned as a heinous crime and a grave violation of human rights. Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries, including Tanzania and abroad.
Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. Human trafficking is the offensive trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of forced labour and sexual slavery. But humans are also trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation.
This may encompass providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage or the extraction of organs or tissues, including for surrogacy and ova removal.
Women and girls from other African countries are trafficked to South Africa for commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and other jobs in the service sector; occasionally, these women are trafficked onward to Europe for sexual exploitation.
A few years ago, an Interpol report implicated some Tanzanians in human trafficking, a diabolical trade that mainly involved the selling of unsuspecting people, mostly children and young women, into slavery and servitude.
It also involved unsuspecting immigrants. Girls as young as 14 are lured with promises of money and good life in overseas, but once they get there, their passports are confiscated and the unfortunate girls are sold to brothel owners and forced to engage in prostitution.
The government has advised young Tanzanian girls to think twice and even seek advice from relatives before accepting offers to travel abroad on promises of a good life. It is imperative to point out here that this is not the first time Tanzanian girls are sold abroad.
Victims of human trafficking face atrocities you might never imagine. After being promised good jobs abroad most victims end up in slavery. As mentioned before, upon arrival abroad the victims’ passports and money are confiscated.
In most cases they are given new names. The victims, most of whom are naïve, vulnerable children, also lose birth certificates, identity cards and any other documents of citizenship.
They are often kept closely guarded and locked in a room when not accompanied. Some of these poor souls are delivered to buyers who need cheap domestic workers in homes in China, Thailand, the Arab World or elsewhere.
Others, especially the girls, who may have been promised greener life, are sold to brothels -- much to their astonishment. So, parents in this country should be aware that children sold into slavery can also be turned over to brothel owners for sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery, servitude or removal of organs.
Now, the last item here should shock even the hardest hearts. But this is not the end of the story. Some victims of human trafficking have been killed in so-called human sacrifices to placate angry gods by superstitious elements whose activities are akin to those of demons.
Some poor parents, at home and abroad, are easily hoodwinked by child traffickers into handing over their children to the morons. Never hand your son or daughter to strangers who tell tall stories about good living abroad.
Equally astonishing is the predicament of young girls and boys who slog it out for a living in so-called rich homes in Tanzania. Yes, there is domestic servitude in Tanzania.
These children are domestic workers who are also disparagingly known as domestic hands. Despite the high level of abuse that prevails in domestic service in urban centres, the occupation remains one of the most common jobs for children, particularly girls.
Indeed, across the globe more girls under the age of 16 are employed in domestic service. Poverty, domestic servitude, the breakdown of the families and parents not seeing the importance of education contribute to the supply of child domestic workers.
In yesteryears, Dar es Salaam got most of its domestic hands from Iringa Region. The most exploited and demeaned children, however, are commercial sex workers. The majority of sexually exploited children come to Dar es Salaam from Mwanza, Singida, Kilimanjaro, Iringa, Mbeya, Mara, Shinyanga, and Kagera regions.
Other heavily exploited children hail from Dodoma, Dar es Salaam, Tanga, and Arusha. The majority of the recruitment into domestic servitude or prostitution occurs with the support of the parents and other family members.
Village leaders are said to be giving the girls false identity cards. Teachers give them false primary education completion certificates. The groups of people who support migrating girls include teachers, police, nurses, doctors, and social welfare workers.
Local business owners used their business areas like bars, saloons and clubs to benefit from the fact that having young girls in their businesses guarantees cheap earnings from customers.
Education levels of sexually exploited children ranges from illiteracy to secondary education. Many of the girls drop out or never attend school, or complete only primary education because they live with former prostitutes.
Some come from broken families in which the parents are either alcoholic, separated, divorced, or hail from families with cultural values that do not allow schooling. Girls also attribute their low levels of education to orphan backgrounds, ignorance, and simple carelessness.
Indeed, moving children from their homes or elsewhere and dumping them into domestic servitude or commercial sex work amounts to human trafficking.
Human trafficking, which means illegally marketing people for commercial purposes, appears in the forms of subjecting people to begging, sexual abuse, prostitution, forced marriage and forced labour in return for low wage and under unhealthy conditions.
In Tanzania, there is a great number of trafficking victims about whom there is no data. Girls and women make the highest number of victims. They are either forced into prostitution or subjected to sexual exploitation.
Invariably, girls and women who are forced into prostitution are infected with deadly HIV viruses in the prostitution market. Human trafficking has been car ried out through ages as a consequence of attempts by the strong to rule and impose sanctions on the weak.
When it was agreed at the international level that human trafficking was a shame to the human dignity and should be banned, the vice started to be carried out in the underground.
Victims of human trafficking can also be called “modern slaves” since the action aims at making use of them forcefully. People who are taken captive through physical force, fraud, deception and other forceful ways are secretly transferred to other regions.
On the global level, trafficking appears in the forms of subjecting people to begging, sexual abuse, prostitution, forced marriage, kidnapping and forced labor in return for low wage and under unhealthy conditions. In the past, human trafficking acted as a substantial income source for the West and was widely practiced.
This practice became a source of capital for imperial powers and little changed after it was banned by international law. Marketing human beings like a commodity was banned by law but it was still practiced behind closed doors.
Human trafficking has now become an irresoluble problem since it is now carried out by the underground and organized gangs. In Tanzania the problem is minimal but more and more youths stow away in a quest for greener pasture and there are no data to indicate departures.
Developing Countries take the lead in population growth are among factors that cause a rise in human trafficking. Now, this is a shame for the modern world.
Human traffickers exploit aggravating conditions of people of poor countries where there are no jobs and economical inequity, social discrimination, political instability and human rights abuses are widespread.
Victims in rural settings are convinced that there are better life opportunities in urban centres. Those who are taken to foreign countries, especially western countries are smuggled into these countries in vehicles or with fake passports.
Victims, who are mostly smuggled into the United States or West European countries, say they don’t even know which country they are in when caught. People who are smuggled into any country are forced to work or sometimes are detained.
The victims mostly end up living under worse conditions in the country they are smuggled into than those in their home country. Consequently, the UN, Amnesty International and a number of other human rights organizations are fighting against human trafficking.
In many cases human trafficking ends up in sexual abuse and forced labour or slavery. The problem has become too complicated to solve as illegal organizations are involved in the vice.
Human trafficking is prevalent in many parts of the world. According to a report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), 127 countries mostly in Asia and East Europe are serving as safe heavens for human trafficking.
Today 27 million people are forced into servitude and this number is the highest in human history. Male victims are made to work on farms, in mines and in other hazardous works under conditions lacking sanitation with no social security.
Human traffickers mostly resort to violence to prevent their victims from fleeing or seek their rights. Victims are subjected to physical and psychological violence and are detained by force.
Victims lack any identity and a place to take shelter in or any opportunity. Those victims who are afraid of being deported hide in their makeshift houses for months. Every product in global economies is made with the contribution of victims of human trafficking or of those who are forced to work.
In southern African farms, where chocolate’s raw material cacao grows, workers are made to work under harsh conditions. Children kidnapped in Ivory Coast are taken from their families on fake promises of training them to become footballers in Europe and their fate is mostly unknown after being separated from their families.
In Chinese province of Yunnan, young girls are sold by human traffickers either to be forced into marriage or prostitution in Thailand. Children and young workers are working in brick workshops and mines under harsh conditions in China.
The conditions of people working in sugarcane farms in Brazil are not better. The UNODC report says that Thailand, China, Nigeria, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine are source countries of human trafficking.
In the same token, Thailand, Japan, Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Turkey and the United States serve as destination and transfer countries for human trafficking. Only a small number of traffickers have so far been convicted.