Males silent victims of Human Trafficking

There is a huge misconception that trafficking only happens to women - however men are prey to human trafficking too.

Dr Monique Emser, of the KwaZulu-Natal Human Trafficking, Prostitution, Pornography and Brothel Task Team, says the majority of trafficking victims are for labour trafficking.

"Human trafficking is all about the profit, it is profit driven and at the end of the day it is basic economics – supply and demand."

Dr Monique Emser explains Male Human Trafficking in South Africa

Traffickers lure desperate people from abroad with the promise of jobs and a better future, men living in the country are not immune from labour trafficking.

“Basically men are trafficked for their labour. For example a large number of men are trafficked for forced labour especially in agriculture, fishing, illegal mining and construction work.”

According to reports, young men and boys from Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, who voluntarily migrated to South Africa for farm work and cattle herding, are exploited without pay.

Young boys are also trafficked into the country for sexual exploitation, illegal adoptions and child labour.

According to Dr Emser, child trafficking is a huge problem in South Africa, as most children are forced into begging, street vending, crime activities and do agricultural work.

Emser says in recent years, Pakistani and Bangladeshi men were trafficked into the country to work in sweatshops.

"Pakistani and Bangladeshi's are smuggled and forced into bonded labour to work in a shop owned by a foreign national who already resides in the country," says Dr Emser.

Certain foreign nationals have more opportunity to have more organised syndicates involved in their trafficking.

An SABC exclusive in 2014 exposed over 30 Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals being smuggled into South Africa from neighbouring Mozambique.

According to the United Nations, labour trafficking amounts to two-thirds of all trafficking worldwide.

"The particular trafficking we see would suggest that most of those trafficked victims are male," says Dr Emser. In 2013,

President Jacob Zuma signed into law the prevention and combating of human trafficking bill. The offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, a R100 million fine, or both.

Dr Emser says South Africa's economic and political stability makes the country a lucrative market for traffickers.

“South Africa is still one of the economic power houses of Africa and still the most attractive place to be, and it is relatively stable. And that makes it a very attractive market for traffickers,” she adds.

Report by Neo Motloung