[Debate] Eastern Cape: Children sold to crime gangs
okhela at iafrica.com
Mon Jun 22 07:23:11 BST 2009
Children sold to crime gangs
CHILDREN are selling their siblings into prostitution in the Eastern Cape as
organised crime gangs prey on poverty-stricken families ahead of the soccer
Rising poverty levels caused by the current economic recession are pushing
some families into prostitution.
International crime gangs are also reported to be exploiting the situation:
they are demanding that young women be initiated into prostitution in time
for the Soccer World Cup next year.
In the Eastern Cape, a centre for human trafficking, young girls and
teenagers are lured into prostitution with the promise of money and a better
life by relatives, working with crime syndicates .
A Port Elizabeth mother said her son had been targeted by foreigners in an
attempt to lure his sister into the hands of men for sexual exploitation .
The New Brighton mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her
children, had been struggling to take care of her five children and
grandchildren , prompting her 17-year-old son to drop out of school and look
for a job to help her .
"After a few odd jobs he settled down in the middle of last year, and
started bringing home between R300 and R500 every week from the repair shop
where he said he worked," she said.
The woman said this helped her to make ends meet and she encouraged him to
work longer hours, and felt rewarded when he took his younger siblings out
for an afternoon and spoilt them with ice cream, clothes and toys .
She was approached by a local social worker who alleged her son had been
"pimping out" his younger sisters , but the conversation had led to an
She did not believe it until her oldest daughter, 23, told her of her
12-year-old sister's life at the hands of her brother's foreign employers.
"It dawned on me then; he had been making too much money. My daughter had
changed since the outings had started and suddenly had too many clothes."
The girl is currently undergoing trauma counselling and the mother is being
counselled and supported by members of her church .
East London social welfare groups have revealed information about children
being used for prostitution and to transport drugs between suburbs, by
members of their own families .
"We are currently dealing with a case of a young girl, whose uncle often
took her to a rented apartment where she was sexually exploited ," Living
Waters' counsellor Renette Jarman said.
She said the child had also been used to transport drugs from the uncle to
his clients, and carry payments back to him .
This was a person she knew well and trusted and who used her mercilessly,
Jarman said .
Living Waters intervened and counselled the child, but Scenery Park social
worker Linda Myekelwa said there were many more cases as a result of rising
poverty levels in the townships .
"Too many people are without jobs and are therefore easy targets for
(foreign) drug kings who demand that young girls be initiated into
prostitution in time for the World Cup."
She said she had discovered that family members, especially uncles and older
brothers, lured young female relatives into the sex trade and rewarded them
for their efforts .
Last year an international report pointed at this province as a hive of
human trafficking, predicting that as the World Cup drew nearer the demand
for sex workers would increase.
The report said poverty and desperation would encourage family members to
trade their relatives in return for money . - By NTANDO MAKHUBU
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