Human trafficking takes root in Tanzania

Posted on December 20, 2010 by The Counter Human Trafficking Blog in Tanzania

By SOSTHENES MWITA,  Daily News 10th December 2010 @ 16:00,


A CHILD tills the land using an adult’s hoe.

DESPITE the high level of abuse that prevails in domestic service in Tanzanian urban centres, the occupation remains one of the most common jobs for children, particularly girls.

Existing research suggests that more girls under the age of 16 are employed in domestic service. Some are victims of human trafficking, a diabolical business that appears to be gaining ground.

As with other forms of child labour — poverty, domestic servitude, the breakdown of the family and parents not seeing the importance of education, contribute to the supply of child domestic workers.

In yesteryears, for example, the city of Dar es Salaam got most of its domestic hands from Iringa Region. The most exploited and demeaned children, however, are commercial sex workers.

The majority of sexually exploited children come from Mwanza, Singida, Kilimanjaro, Iringa, Mbeya, Mara, Shinyanga and Kagera regions, according to a study commissioned by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Other heavily exploited children hail from Dodoma, Dar es Salaam, Tanga, and Arusha. The majority of the recruitment into domestic servitude or prostitution occurs with the support of parents and other family members.

Village leaders or ward executive officers are said to be giving the girls false identity cards and the teachers give the girls false primary education completion certificates.

So, the groups of people who support migrating girls include teachers, police, nurses, doctors and social welfare workers. This ‘support’ often smacks of corruption and other forms of wrongdoing.

The local business owners used their business areas like their bars, salons and clubs to benefit from the fact that having young girls in their business guarantees cheap earnings from customers. Education levels of the sexually exploited children ranges from illiteracy to secondary education.

Many of the girls drop out or never attend school or complete only primary education because they live with former prostitutes or come from broken families in which the parents are either alcoholic, separated, divorced or hail from families with cultural values that do not allow schooling.

Girls also attribute their low levels of education to orphan backgrounds, ignorance and simple carelessness. Moving children from their rural homes or elsewhere and dumping them into domestic servitude or commercial sex work amounts to human trafficking.

Human trafficking, which means illegally marketing of people for commercial purposes, appears in the forms of subjecting people to begging, sexual abuse, prostitution, forced marriage and forced labour in return for low wage and under unhealthy conditions.

In Tanzania, there is a great number of trafficking victims about whom there is no data. Girls and women make the highest number of victims. They are either forced into prostitution or subjected to sexual exploitation.

Invariably, girls and women who are forced into prostitution are infected with deadly HIV and AIDS viruses in the prostitution market. Human trafficking has been carried out through ages as a consequence of attempts by the strong to rule and impose sanctions on the weak.

Some young workers are subjected to unbearable labour, a situation that hinges on cruelty. Not many people distinguish the difference between child work and child labour. Children involved in the worst forms of labour are victims of devil-may-care exploitation and are often in total servitude.

Many work for long hours with no time off in harsh or dangerous conditions but are paid low wages. Some are not remunerated at all. Many miss formal education and are invariably in poor health.

As mentioned before, girls are often harassed or abused mentally and sexually. So, you find in towns under-age quarry stone crackers, shoe-shine boys, fitters, cart pushers, sand miners, prostitutes, domestic hands, farm helps and even factory labourers.

In rural areas you find land tillers, cattle minders, cutters of hut construction poles, firewood collectors and even hunters of wild animals, some of which are vicious. Many of these young workers are virtual slaves – modern day slaves.

Socially disadvantaged children have even been seen working in fishing vessels on the high seas. Welfare officers say exploitation of child labour has become so commonplace in Tanzania that the average person no longer sees it as a serious offence.

Many of the children are victims of human trafficking. When it was agreed at the international level that human trafficking was a shame to human dignity and should be banned, the vice started to be carried out in the underground.

Victims of human trafficking can also be called ‘modern slaves’ since the action aims at making use of them forcefully.

On the global level, human trafficking appears in the forms of subjecting people to begging, sexual abuse and prostitution, forced marriage, kidnapping and forced labour in return for low wage and under unhealthy conditions.

People who are taken captive through physical force, fraud, deception and other forceful ways are secretly transferred to other regions. In the past, human trafficking acted as a substantial income source for the West and was widely practised.

This practice became a source of capital for imperial powers and little changed after it was banned by international law. Marketing human beings like a commodity was banned by law but it was still practised behind closed doors.

Human trafficking has now become an irresoluble problem since it is now carried out by the underground and organized gangs. In Tanzania the problem is minimal but more and more youths stow away in the quest for greener pasture and there are no data to indicate departures.

Modern regimes are under the pressure of human trafficking, one of the most serious crimes secretly practised worldwide. Developing countries take the lead in population growth are among factors that cause a rise in human trafficking.

Human traffickers exploit aggravating conditions of people of Third World countries where there are no employment opportunities and economical inequity, social discrimination, political instability and human rights abuses are widespread by promising a better life.

Victims in rural settings are convinced that there are better life opportunities in urban centres. Those who are taken to foreign countries, especially western countries are smuggled into these countries in vehicles or with fake passports.

Victims, who are mostly smuggled into the United States or West European countries, say they don’t even know which country they are in when caught. People who are smuggled into any country are forced to work or sometimes are detained.

The victims mostly end up living under worse conditions in the country they are smuggled into than those in their home country. The UN, Amnesty International and a number of other human rights organizations are fighting against human trafficking.

In many cases human trafficking ends up in sexual abuse and forced labour or slavery. The problem has become too complicated to solve as illegal organizations are involved in the vice. Human trafficking is prevalent in many parts of the world.

According to a report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), 127 countries mostly in Asia and East Europe are serving as safe heavens for human trafficking. Today 27 million people are forced into servitude and this number is the highest throughout human history.

Male victims are made to work on farms, in mines and in other hazardous works under conditions lacking sanitation with no social security. Human traffickers, who aim to make use of people of any age level, mostly resort to violence to prevent their victims from fleeing or seek their rights.

Victims are subjected to physical and psychological violence and are detained by force. Victims lack any identity and a place to take shelter in or any opportunity. Those victims who are afraid of being deported hide in their makeshift houses for months.

Every product in global economies is made with the contribution of victims of human trafficking or of those who are forced to work. In southern African farms, where chocolate’s raw material cacao grows, workers are made to work under harsh conditions.

Only a small number of traffickers have so far been convicted and none of victims have been rescued.
Those victims who could be rescued are tried for entering the country illegally, being victimized once again. Lack of knowledgeable and caring personnel in the governments of transfer and destination countries makes the understanding of conditions of victims difficult

Reluctance of countries to co-operate against human trafficking and provide accurate figures adds to the deterioration of the situation of victim. International co-ordination is required to fight the problem and work out a solution.


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