Top 10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Africa

Trafficking gangs are flourishing across Africa through the exploitation of hundreds of thousands of migrants, yet nations are failing to dismantle networks due to a lack of coordination. Each year, more than 800,000 people cross international borders – often duped with promises of a better life abroad, then sold into forced labour, domestic servitude or sexual slavery, according to the UN. Many of the victims are migrants from African countries such as Eritrea and Somalia. Yet some countries cannot stop crime because they do not have mechanisms to share cross-border information and coordinate their efforts to dismantle trafficking networks. In the text below, the top 10 facts about human trafficking in Africa are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Africa

  • Human Trafficking in Africa is a $ 13.1 billion industry. Of this figure, $ 8.9 billion comes from sexual exploitation. Victims of sex trafficking yield $ 21,800 each due to high demand. Thus, sexual exploitation generates more than twice the profits.
  • As of 2018, no African country fully meets the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).
  • Libya is the African country with the most active host of human trafficking and other exploitative practices. However, trafficking often starts even earlier along smuggling routes to the Mediterranean, such as smuggling centers, Ethiopia, Sudan and Niger.
  • Mauritania, one of the last countries to officially abolish slavery, has one of the highest rates of slavery in the world. According to the Global Slavery Index, it is in company with Burundi, the Central African Republic, Eritrea and South Sudan.

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  • The East African region – located at the centre of the traditional migrant routes to Europe, the Middle East, the Gulf and South Africa – is particularly vulnerable to traffickers.
  • There are 9.2 million Africans that are victims of modern slavery as of 2016, accounting for 23 percent of total global modern slavery. Africans are vulnerable to forced labor, sexual exploitation and forced marriages.
  • Forty percent of girls are married before they turn 18, with that number being even higher in some countries, like Nigeria and Chad. Forced marriage is, unfortunately, a cultural norm, leaving girls susceptible to domestic and sexual violence as well as serious health risks. These girls are also in the risk of being trafficked. Poverty and a lack of education perpetuate its cultural acceptance, making it harder for police to identify and help victims.
  • Human trafficking in Africa, especially of women and children, is facilitated by the cultural climate. With child labor being widely accepted, many parents living in poverty consider it an option when they cannot afford to raise their children. Many traffickers are close family or friends, so parents view the exchange as sending their children away for a while in order to make money. Other parents may view trafficking as people who enable their children to do work in order to prepare for married life.
  • Human trafficking in Africa is able to flourish partly because of minimal interstate cooperation in response to major trafficking rings. Currently, some states do succeed in identifying individual perpetrators, but often fail to dismantle the wide networks of traffickers that cross state borders. Eradicating human trafficking requires coordinated efforts, especially that of international police.
  • Police are usually unequipped to deal with human trafficking. To start, most law enforcement officials do not understand the full definition and scope of human trafficking, often limiting it to sexual exploitation. Forced labor and marriage, especially for children, are usually left disregarded. Some officers are also questionable in the way they treat victims, sometimes doing more harm than good.


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