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Trafficking for exploitation on the increase says


Trafficking for exploitation on the increase says
09:52:13 - 08 August 2008

A research commissioned by the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) has found that the magnitude and volume of trafficking of women and child for purposes of sexual exploitation was on the increase.

The study conducted by Charles Chilimampunga and Sidon Konyani of Centre for Social Research (CSR) of the University of Malawi, found that there were between 500 and 1,500 women and children trafficked within Malawi annually, 30 percent of which were children aged between 14 and 18.

Chilimampunga said the research also found that incidents of trafficking took place throughout the year but was more common during the festive season or soon after harvest and sell of produce, especially tobacco.

The study, which was conducted in Blantyre, Salima, Lilongwe and Mangochi and sampled about 126 victims of trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation, found that victims were recruited from densely populated areas and trafficked from rural to urban areas.

“The results of this study suggest that the problem of trafficking is spreading to almost all the districts in Malawi. But it is less about the numbers than it is about how horrific the practice is,” Chilimampunga said.

He said underlying causes for the increase could be that demand for women and children was very high in the sex industry and that traffickers were mostly aware that there was no risk of prosecution due to lack of relevant legislation.

Other factors included poverty and cultural practices, which take women as mere sex objects.

When it came to children, Chilimampunga said the study found that of the victims interviewed, 23 percent were living with grandparents while 8 percent were living with parents, which suggested that those living with parents were less vulnerable to trafficking.

The traffickers were categorised into recruiters, transporters, matrons or patrons and employers who were deemed the master traffickers since they were bar owners, brothel madams and rest house owners where the women and children were being sexually exploited.

It also found that about 35 percent of the victims were recruited from home and female relatives and women played a role in the recruitment.

“Although 79 percent of the trafficked women were promised jobs, money and housing, some revealed that the purpose for the recruitment were vague but they went with the traffickers looking for better prospects,” Chilimampunga said.

In its recommendations, the report suggested rescuing and rehabilitating the victims, implementing laws if in existence and capacity building of relevant government authorities on how its effects could be mitigated.

In his observations, political scientist Gerald Chigona queried the researchers on why the study failed to show the reality on the ground in terms of actual places and routes used during the trafficking.

He also said the research should have also looked at volume of profit since the trade was lucrative.

Chigona said the research did not establish clear syndicates in the practice, which could have aided in the mitigation of human trafficking.

In reply, Chilimampunga said since only four districts were sampled, there was need for a nationwide research to get a full national picture.

Catholic priest Robert Mwaungulu said it was wrong to pick cultural practices as a contributor to human trafficking since the practices had been around for generations.

In her remarks, NCA country representative Kari Oyen said trafficking for any purpose was the third largest illicit trade after arms and drugs and since it was very organised and not easy to get to the root of the problem.

She said NCA commissioned the study to find the main driving force behind the trade in Malawi so that solutions could be found. 

2008 Aug 8