South Africa is the primary destination country for trafficking of women and children in the region, according to a new report by the International Organization for Migration. The reportÑdeveloped from 232 interviews with traffickers, police, media, government officials, and victims from 11 countriesÑfound that international criminal groups recruiting women from the continent and places as far as Bulgaria, Moscow, Eastern Europe, and Thailand earned $65 to $10,000 per smuggled victim, according to the BBC. Given scarce employment opportunities and civil instability, women and girls in the South African region are particularly susceptible to traffickers’ recruitment strategies, where many are coerced to work in brothels. In some places, such as Malawi, businesswomen play a dominant role in the selling of women and girls in the West, reported the BBC. Among the report’s findings, the IOM is calling for increased awareness and training among officials and strong legislation to criminalize traffickers and protect victims.
Each year, 700,000 to 4 million persons, mainly women and children, are trafficked across national borders worldwide, according to the 2002 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released last June. South Africa is among 52 countries classified as “Tier 2″Ñ not meeting full compliance with the Act’s minimum standards, but making significant efforts to do so.