Slavery is not a thing of the past – there are more slaves in the world today than at any point in history. Young girls (and boys) are often forced or deceived to leave their homes, usually with the promises of a better life, marriage or money, only to be sold, raped, tortured, drugged and imprisoned, with threats made against their family. One of the most devastating and inhumane crimes in the world today, human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal activity in the world and a trade that’s worth billions of dollars globally and the most profitable trade after drugs and weapons. An activist who wants to use her voice for the greater good of woman and children, Nicole Capper, Tammy Taylor, Mrs South Africa 2018 is working alongside NGO Love Justice to help stand against the scourge of human trafficking.
Speaking about her responsibility as a defender of women’s rights, Capper says, “It’s a sickening crime at odds with our very humanity and an indictment against society that women and children are increasingly being trafficked. We need to take a stand through campaigns that educate communities so that we can work together to halt the relentless growth in this devastating crime. Being conscious and alert to the signs is the first step but more than that – we need to be willing to get involved and do the right thing so we can defend the dignity and protect the rights of those vulnerable to modern-day slavery.”
According to the UN, about 60% of human trafficking involves crossing an international border. Recognising this, Love Justice is a global organisation fighting the injustice of human trafficking through transit monitoring and interception, attacking trafficking at the most strategic moment – while it’s in the process of occurring and before exploitation and enslavement. Although controversial – the introduction of the onerous visa requirements* introduced by the South African Government for minors under 18 leaving or entering the country – it’s legislation that Love Justice endorses wholeheartedly.
According to a Love Justice spokesperson who cannot be named, the international organisation has collectively intercepted over 14 000 people from slavery, exploitation, and abuse over the past 14 years, while in South Africa over 300 people have been intercepted in just 20 months. That’s an average of 15 people every month!
Capper adds that the National Resource Line has received a number of calls reporting suspicions of human trafficking which has resulted in 68 rescues since September 2017. Of those rescued there was a 50% male to female ratio which indicates that young boys are as at risk as girls.
“What’s worse is that due to its hidden nature, it’s very difficult to quantify and the available figures are not an accurate representation of what’s really happening. NGOs also work in silos and don’t easily share information and while this is slowly starting to change, the sensitivity and discretion required does understandably, impact on reporting,” says Capper.
“While the stats are important what’s more significant is an acknowledgment that awareness of the issue – across all of society – is low. The perception that human trafficking only involves dramatic abductions is erroneous with far more subversive and subtle tactics being used in the lure. Deceit, fraud, grooming, manipulation are commonly used tactics of exploitation – and they go unrecognised and unreported. We are working on a campaign to address this and to drive out the darkness human traffickers cast upon our world – the details of which have to remain untold for the time being.”
Although Love Justice primarily focuses on the trafficking of people into South Africa from other countries, there are cases of South African children being trafficked to other countries and within South Africa they are recruited from poor rural areas and moved between urban centres. Girls are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude; boys are forced to work in street vending, food service, begging, criminal activities, and agriculture. Identity documents are often withheld from those who are recruited.
Love Justice runs one of the most tangible, effective and efficient prevention methods of trafficking in the world. “We can intercept a victim for about R 1300.00 and they never have to experience the kind of trauma victims go through. The data we have collected has also resulted in nearly100 traffickers being put behind bars internationally,” says the NGO spokesperson.
“We need more eyes and ears to the ground – communities have to work together. We must redouble our efforts to stop the evil of enslavement. Report any suspicious activity to the national hotline or to law enforcement when you suspect something is inappropriate – it could save someone’s life. More than this make a donation to Love Justice today and help bring this brutal exploitation to a long overdue end,” says Capper.
If you need any assistance regarding a human trafficking issue, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline on 0800 222 777.
Nicole Capper (33) is a functional medicine pharmacist, model, speaker, presenter, and businesswoman who is the reigning Mrs South Africa 2018. Nicole has two children; Joshua (7) and Tatum (3). The Mrs South Africa journey was a dream for Nicole. Although a smart, ambitious woman who cares for her family and community, she never imagined she had the courage to achieve this goal. Her passion for health and preventative medicine is why she entered Mrs South Africa; to use the platform to educate and create awareness around health and rare diseases as her daughter was diagnosed with a life-limiting rare disease, Cystic Fibrosis, at six weeks old. As an ambassador for Rare Diseases SA, and a Rare Activist, Nicole uses her mobility and fitness to raise awareness for those without full health, by participating in sporting events and outdoor adventures all over the world.