A Network Against Human Trafficking is urging Malawi Members of Parliament to pass legislation on human trafficking which is expected to be tabled in Parliament this Thursday.
Addressing the news conference at Norwegian Church Aid offices in Lilongwe, Wednesday, Habiba Osman, taskforce chairperson for the Network Against Human Trafficking, said that human trafficking is a form of modern day ‘slavery’ which is destroying countless lives of people.
“Human Trafficking is without doubt a form of ‘modern day slavery’ which culminates in the destruction of countless children, women and men around the world. Like HIV and AIDS, human trafficking affects us all, whether we live in countries of origin, transit or destination,” explained Osman.
She disclosed that poverty, low education, low economic opportunities, HIV and AIDS, and natural disasters are among the reasons that raise vulnerability of trafficking.
Osman, however, emphasized that common causes among them are poverty, depression, sex discrimination and a severe lack of employment in countries of origin.
She pointed out that there are specific districts where traffickers prey on vulnerable people such as Mangochi, Zomba, Nsanje, Phalombe, Mwanza, Dedza, Ntcheu, Kasungu, Mzimba, Nkhatabay, Karonga, Chitipa and Rumphi.
There are Traditional Authorities, Habiba said, who are supporting the law against human trafficking and have called upon NGOs working in trafficking issues to lobby for a comprehensive law which will prevent, protect and prosecute traffickers.
Osman explained that there are several cases of trafficking in the country although victims rarely report them.
The existence of brothels is one growing form of trafficking in Malawi where even children are trafficked into the trade.
She said in Blantyre City, two 12-year old girls were recently rescued from brothels, and unfortunately, one of them has contracted HIV virus in the process.
“Phalombe Police have been involved in rescue operations with Mozambican authorities and more than 124 children have been rescued but some of them were identified with mutilated genitals.
“Three years ago, 29 children most of them girls from Mangochi, Balaka and Machinga districts were rescued in Karonga by the police but the trafficker is still at large.
“Last week, South African police arrested a man for selling five individuals from Malawi for R500 in South Africa,” narrated Osman
She continued saying: “Interestingly, all countries surrounding Malawi have passed human trafficking laws and sentences range from 21 years to life. This means that all the countries in the SADC (region) bordering Malawi have recognized that human trafficking is a gross human rights violation that is robbing them of their citizens and also the dignity of human beings.”
In Malawi, the current law, Protection and Justice Act 2010, only criminalizes child trafficking which is not enough, Osman told the media.
“The new law would enable Malawi to have services that would assist victims of human trafficking through re-integration and rehabilitation services and shelters provided in law. As it is (now) victims in Malawi are doubly vulnerable as without these services, they are easily re-trafficked,” emphasized Network Chairperson.
She said that Malawi is in breach of its international standards by not passing a law on trafficking.
Also taking part in the press conference was Maxwell Matewere who is President of Southern Africa Network Against Abuse and Trafficking of Children who urged Malawi to conform with neighbouring countries that are in line with international standards.
On its part, Government, through a representative from Ministry of Gender, Justin Hamela, said it is committed to see that the Bill is passed in Parliament because it will help in curbing human trafficking in the country. – LINAFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :