Human trafficking is real: let’s protect each other – Tsireledzani!
Since February 2009, the Tsireledzani (which means “protect” in TshiVenda, one of the eleven South African official languages) awareness-raising project has been working on the development, testing and dissemination in selected pilot areas in South Africa of a series of pilot products, activities and tools to raise awareness of human trafficking. The Tsireledzani Programme, financed by the European Union, is led by the National Prosecuting Authority on behalf of the South African Government. The ITC-ILO is responsible for the implementation of this multi-faceted assistance project, with particular attention to its awareness-raising and training components.
Human trafficking is fairly unknown as a concept within South African society, and most people tend to think that this crime affects only foreign women in most cases. However, human trafficking is a daily occurrence in South Africa as in most parts of the world.
There is evidence that the first step in tackling it is to inform as many people as possible about its existence and nature. The lack of information has a negative impact on the most vulnerable segments of society: children, women and the poor. Since deception is one of the tricks commonly used by traffickers, raising awareness amongst their potential targets can make the life of those criminals a lot more difficult. Information helps people to protect themselves, their families and their communities from this cunning, intolerable form of modern slavery.
As part of the Tsireledzani Project, in 2009 the International Labour Organization conducted research into the level of awareness of human trafficking within selected areas and target groups.
The study confirmed that there is a lot of misconception around the subject. Most people think that the problem only concerns foreigners, especially women looking for easy money, and not that victims of human trafficking very often end up in other forms of labour exploitation than the sex trade.
People fall into the traffickers’ ambushes because of their vulnerability and precarious living conditions. The key message of the awareness-raising campaigns of the Tsireledzani Project is that human trafficking can target anybody.
The campaigns focus primarily on community members (children, teachers, parents, guardians, caregivers, traditional elders and community leaders) because they are crucial in terms of prevention and self-protection. The Tsireledzani campaigns also focus on the entertainment and tourism sector, the transport sector, public officials and civil society.
The goal is to provide the South African Government, its National Prosecuting Authority and all the other stakeholders with a set of effective awareness-raising and public information instruments which can easily be reproduced and disseminated throughout the country.
These tools include story-boards, radio drama series, a learning kit for teenagers and their teachers, works of art, poems, radio programmes and theatre plays about human trafficking.
Other activities include the production and distribution of posters, flyers, stickers and leaflets, as well as the launch of the first-ever South African government web site on human trafficking (www.tsireledzani.gov.za), where more information on the project can be found.