Just days before the World day against Trafficking in Persons, the U.S. Department of State 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) released on Tuesday made shocking revelations that Botswana is a source, transit and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.
It is scary that Botswana has been described as a source and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. According to the report, susceptible persons to trafficking include unemployed women, those living in poverty, agricultural workers and children. The report also cite young Batswana domestic workers for extended families as victims who are usually denied access to education and basic necessities, subjected to confinement or verbal, physical or sexual abuse and that such conditions are indicative of forced labour in the country. Furthermore, it states that Batswana girls and women are exploited in prostitution within the country while some are trafficked internally or to neighbouring countries for sexual exploitation.
While the government of Botswana has reacted angrily to the findings, we should not take them lightly as the damage could be worse, if it turns out true. We note that the Government of Botswana has condemned in the strongest terms the report saying it contains inaccuracies, paints negative and unfair picture of the situation in the country. However we shoulkd not sit on our laurels. We have always been under the impression that our law enforcement agencies are on alert to eliminate human trafficking for sexual exploitation or forced labour.The findings by this report are disturbing, to say the least.
It is also interesting to note that Botswana is in the same category with other African countries like Lesotho, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, China, Djibouti and Mauritius amongst others.
We concur with recommendations that Botswana should intensify efforts to prohibit all forms of trafficking and punish acts of such trafficking as well as make serious and sustained efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons amongst others. we also support recommendations that Botswana should develop and implement a robust system that will proactively identify trafficking victims and seek assistance from specialized service providers as well as raising public awareness on human trafficking. On the same subject, citing a new study, “Addressing Human Trafficking and Exploitation in Times of Crisis,” International Organization for Migration Director General William Lacy Swing has called the exploitation and trafficking of victims, a growing phenomenon in a world awash in conflict and natural disasters. He said trafficking in persons not only flourishes during a disaster, it is a direct result of disasters, every bit as much as the infrastructural damages, the loss of life or the food shortages which garner far more attention. He added that in conflict, the lack of rule of law creates a condition of impunity, where people are trafficked to finance war, to provide sexual services, and to reinforce enslavement of ethnic minorities.
Also cited is a growing trafficking crisis in Libya and countries across the Middle East, where migrant workers are facing increasingly hostile and abusive working conditions, and the on-going conflict in Syria which has forced many families and individuals to adopt harmful coping mechanisms such as forced early marriages and child labour, often resulting in exploitation and trafficking. It is even more depressing to note that out of millions of men, women and children trafficked around the world each year, only approximately 45,000 victims are identified. Although Botswana government totally refutes the findings claiming that the details contained in the report are a total fabrication and misrepresentation of the good performance Botswana has achieved in the field of anti-human trafficking, we should not become complacent and allow traffickers within our midst.