In just under five months, South Africa will become the first African nation to host the FIFA World Cup, giving a turbo boost to the South African economy. Total score. However, as with any major international event, human traffickers will also be scoring. Big time. Many people will sign on for what they think is a legitimate job and then find themselves trapped in labor or sex trafficking operations.
The Salvation Army estimates that, of the two million people trafficked every year, around 450,000 are out of Africa. What’s more, they estimate that there are over 50,000 child prostitutes in South Africa alone. Red card, please!
In response to the trafficking powder keg being firmly packed by the upcoming World Cup, the Salvation Army, together with BE HEARD, has launched a toll-free human trafficking helpline in Johannesburg. BE HEARD, an organization that’s been operating anonymous tip-off services for 10 years, is running the 24-hour service pro bono.
According to the National Coordinator of The Salvation Army Anti-Human Trafficking Task Team, Major Marieke Venter, “This toll free number will create an opportunity for two things: firstly, it will allow people to call for help on all matters relating to human trafficking and secondly, it will serve as a platform for people to offer tip-off information on suspicious circumstances.”
The helpline is currently only offered in South African languages, but as soon as capacity increases and the project receives more funding, languages should include others like Swahili, Thai, and Russian. Help will also be available via other communication outlets, including SMS, e-mail, and fax.
While this is definitely a step towards the goal of eradicating slavery in South Africa, the Salvation Army, along with other NGO’s, hope to pass the ball to Parliament. Despite reports earlier this year, there is still no legislation in South Africa to fight trafficking. The government is reviewing a draft bill on the issue, however, and anti-traffickers everywhere are waiting with bated breath to hear: gooooooaaaaaaaalllllllll!
If you would like to tell the South African Parliament to throw traffickers out of the game for good, please take action now by urging Secretary Clinton and the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa to get involved.