“Gone in the blink of an eye”
Most likely it is any parent’s greatest fear to lose a child when your attention is diverted for a moment. Fears regarding kidnapping and in general, Human Trafficking, had been causing panic amongst communities after several incidents of such crimes had been reported. Rumours going around on social media went rife with warnings to parents about females taking pictures of children outside the school gate and at shopping centres. Parents having been involved in similar situations reported that the incidents resulted in an emotional rollercoaster ride, subsequently causing virtually the same severity of trauma to both parent and victim.
According to Missing Children South Africa, at least 77% of missing children are being reported as missing while other parents refuse to report the matter if a child was found, wanting to “put the ordeal behind them”. Dr. Marcell van der Watt and Dr. Monique Emser, recently published an article, #Stillnotfound: Missing Children in South Africa, and believed that there was an increasing relation between missing persons and human trafficking. Globally it is believed that the instability caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, played into the hands of human traffickers. Bearing in mind that not only children fall prey to these criminals, fraudulent employment opportunities were increasingly advertised and being used as bait to rope in unsuspecting victims.
Although a large portion of the population believes that human trafficking is mostly aimed at obtaining subjects for sexual exploitation, the scope of human trafficking however spreads much wider. Victims are being kidnapped for reasons including financial exploitation of the relatives (Demanding ransom), illegal organ harvesting, sex slaves, child labour, forced marriages, forced labour (Slavery). According to the Global Slavery Index, there are currently 40.5 million individuals in slavery. In South Africa, the numbers are estimated at approximately 250 000, but due to misleading statistics, the number cannot be verified.
Human Trafficking syndicates operate in a highly sophisticated manner and a myriad of cases are never reported to the authorities. Furthermore, it is believed that a mere 1% of victims of human trafficking are rescued, mostly so severely traumatized that they refused having their identities divulged.
Even though the picture appears grim, there are stories of hope where victims are rescued and perpetrators get to face the full action of the law.
Nadine Blom, the holder of a Master’s Degree in International Law, gives the following tips to safeguard your child:
1. Report the missing child/person immediately. Do not wait 24 hours.
2. Always keep a good quality, recent, photo of your child at arm’s reach should it be needed in an emergency situation.
3. Provide the SAPS with a precise description of the missing person, including last known activities and clothes worn at the time.
4. Ensure to have the names, addresses and phone numbers of your child’s friends.
5. Children should as young as possible to taught their own names, address as well as a parent’s name and phone number.
6. Do not mark a child’s backpack, lunchbox or water bottle. Instead mark the items with your own phone number.
For more tips, visit missingchildren.org.za
Human Trafficking Hotline 0800 222 777
Missing Children SA 072 647 7464
Pink Ladies 072 214 7439/083 378 4882
Stop Crime (SAPS) 08600 10111
Source: Kuier, 29 October 2020
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