The trafficking of children for sexual exploitation
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The Trafficking of Children for Sexual Exploitation. A report by Molo Songololo. A Global Problem. UN Statistics on Trafficking of Children .

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The Trafficking of Children for Sexual Exploitation

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The Trafficking of Children for Sexual Exploitation

A report by Molo Songololo

A Global Problem

UN Statistics on Trafficking of Children

  • The United Nations estimates that between 2 and 4 million people a year are traded against their will in to some form of slavery, be it domestic, labour, begging or prostitution. According to the United nations many of these are children.




Protection from exploitation all kinds

Bilateral, multilateral agreements

Right to Recovery

Right to Life……..

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

A r t i c l e s

2, 11, 19, 32,

33, 34, 35,

37, 39

Children Of South Africa

  • Children form nearly half of the population.

  • 61% of children under 16 years live in poverty.

  • Poverty amongst African children is the worst at 70%.

  • By 2010 there will be an estimated 3.6 - 4.8 million children orphaned by HIV/Aids

    These children are the most vulnerable to the trafficking and sexual exploitation trade.

Failing to Protect our Children!Molo Study Highlights

Trafficked for



Different forms of trafficking



What Constitutes Trafficking of Children

All acts involving:

  • the recruitment

  • transportation (one place to another)

  • Transfer (children are resold another person)

  • Harbouring (kept against their will)

  • Receiving of children (accepting children for sex)

    Through any means including:

  • Abduction

  • Sale

  • Use of force

  • Threats

  • Deception

  • Use or abuse of power/authority

Definition: Sexual Exploitation

The sexual, emotional and physical abuse of children through forms of sexual violence, including , rape sexual battery, inappropriate sexual contact, exposure to inappropriate sexual acts, pornography and prostitution,






Contributing Factors to The Trafficking of Children

  • General increase in the prostitution of children.

  • Social and economic factors contributing to increase in poverty and child neglect.

  • Vulnerability of children living in poverty.

  • Inadequate legislation and application of the law.

  • The lack of appropriate services & policies.

Who are the Traffickers of these Children?

  • Parents - mainly mothers

  • Family members

  • Older sex workers

  • Gangs

  • Brothel owners

  • Syndicates and agents

  • Government officials

  • Local and foreign nationals

Who Are the Sexual Exploiters of Children?

  • South African adult males

  • From all walks of life

  • Taxi drivers, farmers, business men, Doctors, high ranking government officials, police, neighbors, gangs, community

  • Foreign tourists.

  • Other children.

Who Are the children who are trafficked?

  • Mainly girlchildren

  • From ages 4 years to 17 years

  • Children from rural and urban area in search of work for survival.

  • Children who have left home because of poverty.

  • Children who have been sexually abused.

  • children who have run away from places of safety.

Where Does trafficking Occur within South Africa?

  • From rural to urban

  • Inter-provincially

  • Inter city

  • Within communities

  • Cross community

  • Within gangs.


Cape Town & Durban are

main receiving cities!

Modus Operandi of Local Traffickers

  • Target vulnerable families and children

  • Offer family or child food, shelter, regular payment of money, clothing in exchange for child.

  • Offer child and family education or employment in city.

  • Parents knowingly or unknowingly sell their children for sexual exploitation.

  • Advertise false work opportunities

Services for Trafficked Children Within South Africa

  • There are no specific services for trafficked or sexually exploited children.

  • Children found in prostitution are ignored, sent to places of safety and accepted with difficulty,im prisoned or returned to their homes without investigation.

  • NGO's and government departments confirm the need to develop special services for prostituted children but to date have failed to implement such services.

South African Legislation

The Law: Legislation

SA does not have legislation that prohibits the trafficking of people.

However, South African children are offered protection from sexual exploitation in several pieces of legislation including:

Relevant South African Statutes

  • The South African Constitution

  • Child Care Amendment of 1996,

  • The Sexual Offenses Act of 1957

  • Prevention Of Family Violence Act 1993,

  • The Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1997.

  • Prevention of organised crime Act

  • Aliens Control Act

  • Refugee Act

  • Films and Publications Act

  • Immigration Bill

Amongst others are

Sexual Offenses Act

Immigration Bill

Child Justice Bill

Restorative Justice Bill.

Legislation Currently Under Review

A need for


South Africa is signatory to several conventions including :

  • The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  • OAU Convention on Refugee’s.

  • OAU Charter on The Rights and Welfare of the Child.

  • Hague Convention.

  • African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

Optional Protocol to the CRC; signed in year 2000

  • Optional Protocol deals with sale of children, child prostitution & pornography

  • Protocol emphasises that state parties must strengthen international and regional co-operation by multi - lateral, regional and bi-lateral agreements and arrangements to combat the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography

  • It further emphasises the importance of protecting the rights and interest of child victims

Cross Border Trafficking










Eastern Europe

South East Asia

Sending Countries

For African Children from:






South Africa as Transit Countryen-route to Bangkok

Children are trafficked into a number of exploitative situations

  • For their organs (kidneys, liver and hearts)

  • As drug runners

  • As Prostitutes

  • trafficked as child brides

  • To work In:

    sweatshops (sex clubs)


    domestic service

    informal economy

Methods use by Traffickers

They are:

  • sold, abducted, held in captivity and debt- bonded.

  • Children are transported via surface, air and sea routes

  • The report indicates that these girls are debt-bonded for R 12 000 . Job offers were made to the parents for their children to work in restaurants, domestic service and on farms. Instead they were sold into the sex industry

Syndicates & Criminal Groupings

The following syndicates involved in the trafficking of women are suspected of being involved in the trafficking of children


  • South African and Foreign

    Syndicates and criminal Groupings

  • Nigerian Drug lords

  • Congolese

  • Angolan

  • Russian Mafia

  • Chinese Triads and Thai

  • Eastern European Syndicates (former military personnel)

Agents linked to Syndicates

  • South African / Foreign nationals

  • Brothel owners

  • Former Sex Workers / Victims

  • Government Officials (local and international)

  • Former police and military personnel

  • Business

  • Pimps

  • Individuals

The International Operation!

  • Procurers of children, trick, coerce, force and buy children for sexual exploitation.

  • Once procured children sold to an agent in country of origin or destination

  • On arrival in country of destination children are re-sold or auctioned to brothel, club or individual.

  • Children are held captive until debt bondage to trafficker or agent is paid off, or they are re-sold.

Global Links

  • Similar Modus Operandi to procure children is used in Thailand, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Russia and Africa.

  • Trafficking of children has become one of the most lucrative business’s for trans - national crime syndicates.

  • International syndicates involved in the trafficking of women are allegedly involved in the trafficking of children.

Services for Foreign Children Trafficked to South Africa

  • There are no services or policy for children in this category.

  • Children are treated as illegal aliens and returned to country of origin.

  • There is no repatriation process.

  • Children are escorted to the border and left or put on a train or plain to country of origin

  • Sometimes Embassies of specific country are contacted.

Main Concerns of Report Findings

  • Lack of Anti Trafficking legislation

  • Lack of policy and Bilateral agreements.

  • Poverty &Unemployment

  • Lack of Services for children

  • Increase in the demand for sex with children

  • Increase in the numbers of prostituted children

  • Impact of HIV & Aids.

  • Alleged corruption of officials in Government, police, Immigration authorities.

  • lack of Public Awareness


  • Development of Anti Trafficking legislation

  • Extra territorial legislation and policy to prevent, intervene and rescue of victims..

  • Prosecution and conviction of all involved or directly benefiting from the trafficking industry

  • Training and awareness for organisations and administrators of justice working with children and their protection.

  • Compliance with international agreements and agenda’s for action.

South Africa is emerging as a key role player in the trafficking of children for the sexual exploitation market. While the ‘In Country’ trafficking of children for sexual exploitation is our biggest problem there is sufficient evidence of the ‘Cross Border’ trafficking of children to warrant a national focus towards the elimination of this phenomenon.

In Conclusion


  • South Africa as signatories to major international agreements has committed herself to the prevention, protection and rescue of all children from this form of abuse. The NPA (National Plan of Action) takes up this challenge through the development of a program aimed at the eradication of the sexual exploitation of children.

Molo Songololo Remains Committed to Children and their Protection

Molo Songololo

1st Floor, Observatory Arcade, 67 Station Road, Observatory,

7925, Cape Town, South Africa.

PO Box 43326, Salt River, 7924.

E-mail: info@molo,org,za

Tel: +27 (0)21 448 5421

Fax: +27 (0)21 447 4997

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