By Paul Ndiho
Child trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world and it’s prevalent in Africa. Young women and children from Malawi are often transported to other African nations, Europe and Asia — and forced into domestic servitude or the commercial sex trade.
The United Nations says human trafficking is a major problem in Africa, where young women and children are often transported to abroad and forced into prostitution. In the Southern African nation of Malawi it’s an underground business, driven by enormous profits. Boniface Mandele, a human trafficking activist in Blantyre, Malawi says that this heinous crime is at an all-time high.
“We have the organized networks that are facilitating especially the movement of children from Malawi throughout Africa because the 80% of the people we have managed to rescue don’t have a passport. They don’t have money to travel throughout Africa, meaning that there are some people organizing their passports.”
Mandela says Malawi is a transit point for foreign victims and a destination country for men, women, and children from Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe subjected to conditions of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. He says that given the nature of the trade, statistics on the numbers of those who try to cross through Malawi are sketchy.
“In terms of the women and men, the reports, we don’t have the particular statistics because we haven’t yet done any study on trafficking persons in general. The studies that we have done before specifically target child and young boys and young girls.”
Last year the U.S. State Department published a report that named Malawi as a source country for men, women and children to be trafficked for forced labor and sex. The report says the Malawi government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Mandela and other critics could not agree more.
“It has been a very big challenge in terms of prosecution. We have so many prosecutions that have resulted in to either dismal of the case because of lack of evidence or skills, especially for the magistrate, as well as prosecutors, but also because they don’t have that particular piece of law, which can comprehensively deal issues of trafficking with persons in Malawi.”
I reached out to Malawi government officials for comment but my calls were not returned. However, Malawi maintains that it is making progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement and prohibits it all forms of trafficking through various laws.
Paul Ndiho is a Ugandan – American video journalist/ executive producer, Africa Innovations & Technology based in Washington D.C with interests in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa. He is passionate about mentorship and developing the next generation of Africa’s young leaders. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook: Paul Ndiho and Twitter: @pndiho