Pretoria, 31 May 2021: South Africa launched the Child Protection Week Campaign on Sunday, 30 May 2021 under the theme: “Let us all Protect Children during COVID-19 and beyond,” and the Department of Social Development is urging South Africans to always be vigilant and report cases of child trafficking.
Many children in the country have been victims of different forms of abuse including child trafficking and government and South Africans have a collective responsibility to protect them.
According to the 2018 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report titled, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, it is estimated that children comprise almost a third of all human trafficking victims worldwide, with women and girls comprising 71 percent of human trafficking victims.
In its effort to protect children against child trafficking, the South African Government promulgated the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2013 which seeks:
- To give effect to the Republic’s obligations concerning the trafficking of persons in terms of international agreements;
- To provide for the prosecution of persons who commit offences referred to in the Act for appropriate penalties;
- To provide for the prevention of trafficking in persons and for the protection and assistance to victims of trafficking;
- To provide services to victims of trafficking;
- To provide for effective enforcement measures;
- To provide for the co-ordinated implementation, application and administration of this Act, including the development of a draft national policy framework; and
- To combat trafficking in persons in a co-ordinated manner.
The Act defines perpetrators of trafficking in persons as any person who delivers, recruits, transports, transfers, harbours, sells, exchanges, leases or receives another person within or across the borders of the Republic, by means of amongst other things; a threat of harm, the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abuse of vulnerability; abduction and kidnapping.
The Department of Social Development provides alternative care by placing children who are victims of child trafficking, in Child and Youth Care Centres (CYCCs). Whilst in placement, they are assessed to identify risks by a multi-disciplinary team which include social workers, medical experts, psychologists and other therapists in order to develop an intervention plan for the child. Based on assessment, the child would receive therapeutic programmes to address identified risks and needs.
To prevent child trafficking, parents and caregivers are encouraged to monitor children’s behaviour, especially, the usage of cell phones and other gadget as traffickers also use technology to attract and groom their targets. In some instances, the traffickers may act as if they are same age with children in order to draw them closer. It is also important for parents to be vigilant and monitor whom their children associate with.
The Department also has a Gender Based Violence Command Centre, which can be contacted toll-free on 0800 428 428 (0800 GBV GBV). The GBVCC was launched in March 2014 and provides support and counselling to victims of gender-based violence.
It allows social workers to provide telephonic support and counselling and can direct the victim’s case to a social worker close to them. Callers can also request a social worker from the GBVCC to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from any cell phone.
Children are trafficked for amongst other things chid labour, detention, sexual exploitation and commercial sex work, physical and mental abuse. These are a violation of children’s rights as set out in the Children’s Act and Constitution including their rights to dignity, freedom and security.
On June 1, it is International Children’s Day and the day will be commemorated under the theme: “South Africa Fit for Children: Give Children a Voice to be responsible citizens.”
International Children’s Day dates back to 1925, when representatives from different countries met in Geneva, Switzerland to convene the first United Nations World Conference for the Wellbeing of Children. Following the conference, some Governments across the world set aside a day as Children's Day to highlight the rights of children.
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT