The title of this article is actually a quote by Kevin Bales, founder of “Free the Slaves” (link to www.freetheslaves.net) and author of “Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy”. He was a pioneer in what is now a global movement to end modern day slavery.
The task of ending modern day slavery in all its forms is one that will require commitment, dedication and endurance simply because it is not something that will happen overnight, no matter how much we wish it would.
Human trafficking happens in our world and in South Africa today because the perfect environment currently exists in which it can thrive. It requires those who can be “the exploited” and it requires the ability for those who exploit to do their work unopposed. Socio-economically as a nation we have every ingredient necessary for the ever growing and easily accessible pool of ‘prey’ and in addition, we have an already busy playing field of exploitation; exploiters, the corrupt and the criminally inclined use this country as their personal playground.
Numerous factors play a part in allowing this to continue unabated in South Africa; poverty and lack of education or even access to education are some of the most pressing reasons behind the vulnerability of trafficking victims. These and other factors all feed into a severe lack of options for many in South Africa, and it is the lack of options that may eventually lead an individual into the unscrupulous hands of a trafficker.
Additionally, because the issue has previously not been looked for, it has for a long time gone on with no intervention, with victims up until now not even being acknowledged as victims. Many victims themselves do not even know or understand that they are indeed, victims. Yet the tide has begun to turn, and many are taking up the battle to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.
The task for those involved in this work is not an easy one, and a multi-sectorial partnership is the only approach possible if we want to stand any chance of moving forward in the fight. In prevention, as well as rescue and rehabilitation, the job will require many hands. Only then will we be able to change the environment into one in which human trafficking can no longer thrive.