Human trafficking in the last three years has become the second most heinous crime after drug trafficking.

The alarm that cross-border trafficking has caused in the last two years has seen the investigation, prosecution and conviction of one of the members of the Kuwait Syndicate.

Prior to 2014, there was no law on trafficking until the enactment of Trafficking In Person Act (Chapter 9:25) There have been more awareness raised on warning signs about falling for the trap that is going to foreign countries to seek employment without verification from the Embassy or Consulate among other warning signs.

There are plenty more efforts from the state to ensure that much attention is placed on trafficking by creating the Anti-Trafficking Inter-Ministerial Committee which takes active effort against combating trafficking in and out of Zimbabwe.

What is rarely spoken about, however, is trafficking that happens within the borders of Zimbabwe which too is included in the Trafficking In Persons Act (Chapter 9:25).

There are different laws in Zimbabwe which focus on trafficking and the main Act is the Trafficking in Persons Act (Chapter 9:25) which defines the crime and gives penalty for being found guilty.

This crime is also prosecuted in relation to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. Whereas these laws exist in addition to international instruments which Zimbabwe has ratified, there stand to be more action and focus around domestic trafficking. According to a report made by the American Embassy in relation to Zimbabwe under ‘US Department of State- Diplomacy in Action’; “Family members recruit children and other relatives from rural areas for work in cities where they are often subjected to domestic servitude or other forms of forced labour; some children, particularly orphans, are lured with promises of education or adoption.”

“Reports indicate that adults have recruited girls for child sex trafficking in Victoria Falls.

“Children are subjected to forced labour in the agricultural and mining sectors and are forced to carry out illegal activities, including drug smuggling.

“There were increased reports of children from Mozambique being subjected to forced labour in street vending in Zimbabwe, including in Mbare. Additionally, the practice of ‘ngozi’, giving a family member to another family to avenge the spirits of a murdered relative, creates a vulnerability to trafficking.”

These forms of trafficking are among some of the more common methods and child marriages and other forms of gender-based violence have resulted from these inhumane practices. One of the biggest issues herein is that some acts of trafficking have been normalised and even sometimes seen as acts of charity.

When a young girl is transported from her rural home to the urban area in the promise of getting an education but is forced into unpaid domestic work or child slavery, sometimes with their allowance or salary being sent to their family and not channelled directly towards them this counts as a form of domestic trafficking.

The reason that a person consented to moving away from their home was due to the initial promise given to them therefore when the other party does not honour the promise, this counts as taking a person without getting their full consent.

The Trafficking In Persons Act provides for the rehabilitation of victims of trafficking and the construction of victim centres which should be open to people who are forced to partake in rural to urban migration for employment.

What may be more important is to continue to raise awareness and discourse on domestic trafficking.

There is need to evaluate certain societal and cultural norms such as “ngozi” with the human rights lens and therefore without express consent, one must not be transported to another location.

As we continue to move with the notion of 365 days of activism it therefore means that this type of trafficking should be probed and prosecuted.

The majority of victims of trafficking are women, for free or cheap labour and for the sex trade, the act of trafficking thus becomes a gendered issue.

Due to the sheer prevalence of acts of domestic trafficking and with the influence from the worldwide concern around trafficking, continued evaluation of the protections provided for in the Act should be maintained.

This should be done to ensure that all persons are afforded the equal protection of the law.

The positive strides in responding to cross boarder trafficking stand as proof of what consolidation of efforts will reap in the fight for the full realisation of human rights.

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