Human trafficking is reportedly rife in Zimbabwe with young women and girls being lured to China, Egypt, Britain and Canada under false pretences, and then subjected to prostitution.
A human trafficking report for 2011 released by the United States last week said Zimbabwean men were the worst victims as they were being lured into exploitative labour to countries like Malaysia, Nigeria, Angola, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.
The report said Zimbabweans were mostly being trapped by false offers of employment in agriculture, construction, information technology, and hospitality and some subsequently become victims of forced labour.
The report said Zimbabwe did not fully comply with the minimum standards for elimination of trafficking and was not making significant efforts to do so.
“Many Zimbabwean women and some children willingly migrate to South Africa, often with the assistance of taxi drivers who transport them to the border at Beitbridge or nearby; some of the migrants are given to thugs, who subject them to violent attacks, rape, deception, and, in some cases, sex trafficking in Musina, Pretoria, Johannesburg, or Durban,” the report said.
According to the report Zimbabwe was a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.
It said women and girls from Zimbabwean towns bordering South Africa and Zambia were subjected to sex trafficking in brothels that cater for long-distance truck drivers.
“Recent reports indicate that young women from rural areas are recruited into forced prostitution through the guise of beauty pageants held in cities,” it said.
“Some victims of forced prostitution are subsequently transported across the border to South Africa where they suffer continued exploitation.
Men, women, and children from Bangladesh, Somalia, India, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia are trafficked through Zimbabwe en route to South Africa.”