Church tackles human trafficking

Athi Majija, portfolio head of education and social development committee of council, at the St Paul's Church, addresses those at the workshop.

It could be you, your child or loved one who becomes a victim of human trafficking.

It can happen more easily than we think as the traffickers take advantage of those who are desperate or too trusting, especially women. St Paul’s Anglican Church in Philippi held a workshop about human trafficking on Saturday July 8 to raise awareness about what it termed modern­-day slavery.

According to the organisers, the purpose of the workshop was to mobilise all stakeholders and community-based organisations to work together and find solutions in fighting the scourge of human trafficking.

Those who attended the workshop, including religious groups, youth and concerned residents, said human trafficking is no longer a government issue alone.

The workshop warned that if people do not switch on and be alert all the times, children will always vanish.

Championed by St Paul’s education and social development committee of council, the workshop covered an array of topics such as what is human trafficking, who could be the victim, how and why people fall victims, how to identify perpetrators and other precautions.

Athi Majija, portfolio head of education and social development committee of council, at the church, said the church was an integral part of society and felt there should be a discussion and awareness on the issue.

He said there are concerns human trafficking will increase if no one is challenging it.

“We heard stories of people taken away and we also have experienced it at the church. One of our own took a iphela after the church but she ended up being raped somewhere near Khayelitsha. Fortunately she survived. But we fear that many stories do not come to light. Human trafficking one of the main crimes of our times. With its elements of fraud, violence, exploitation, human trafficking treats human beings as commodities while victims are in a state of coercion and fear. This is one of the most severe forms of human rights violations,” he said.

Mr Majija said the two most common purposes for human trafficking are sexual exploitation and forced labour.

“For that and many other reasons, we have an obligation to create awareness and educate young women about the spate of human trafficking. As a society we need to provide young women with relevant skills necessary to identify perpetrators. Churches need to continuously sensitise young women against human trafficking and any form of abuse,” he said.

Maropeng Moholoa, a member of Health, Opportunity, Partnership, Employment Africa (Hope Africa), advised young and old to always question work opportunities they get from people.

He warned them them not to be fooled and think it won’t happen to them.

“When a job opportunity comes, ask questions, probe, anybody can be tricked. You get tricked because somebody painted a beautiful picture. They transport you, you get trapped and you get raped and used for money. It is a business and people disappear,” he said.

Mr Moholoa said every 30 seconds, someone becomes a victim. He said out of five people trafficked, four are women. “These things are real. People need to share it with their moms, sisters, brothers, neighbours and friends. We need to spread the word,” he said.

Right2Know’s Vainola Makan called on the information to be tabled. She said people have to be informed so that they can be in charge of their lives.

She said the government needed to reveal how many people are trafficked in and out of Cape Town. She also called on the communities to talk to children about abuse and rape, including about sex.

The church has promised to host other seminars relating to the issue of human trafficking.

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