In some circles, including among members of the National
Prosecuting Authority, the usual term B and B has been re-nicknamed “Bed and
Brothel,” because of the large number of rent by the hour accommodations springing
up all over the country. According to police sources, many are packed to the
brim with new, foreign arrivals.
is especially disturbing is the number of women arriving through dubious means.
The Weekend Argus recently reported the arrest of Pakistani crime syndicate members
in possession of 100,000 false birth certificates and documents intended to
import girls as “exotic dancers” to “gentlemen’s clubs.” In another raid,
police arrested 35 Eastern European dancers illegally working with permits normally
issued for farm and mine workers. This is a worrying signal for the
possibilities for human trafficking into the sex trade in the country.
agencies are busy targeting “the suppliers,” i.e. the traffickers.
Non-governmental organisations across the world focus on rescuing the victims,
“the supply.” Yet, human trafficking is the fastest growing organised crime in
the world. Have we overlooked something?
Demand,” says Chris Lenty, the founder of an unusually faith-based organisation
called The MST (Men in the Sex Trade) Project. Lenty preaches, “Men are part of
the solution.” He and his team from Thailand
recently visited Cape Town
to see how they could expand their ministry, which exclusively targets the
buyers of sex, to the male sex tourists at global sporting events.
Leading up to the World Cup, there were dire predictions
of large increases in both the supply and demand of sex workers. Along with
getting the stadiums and soccer balls ready, this expectation prompted President
Jacob Zuma to request a 1 billion-condom donation from Britain. Britain responded
by donating 42 million. That’s one hundred for every soccer-frenzied tourist.
Whether the predictions of an out of control sex trade
come true or not, just the promise of a tsunami of male sex tourists has
impacted this nation, leaving a slew of new “Bed and Brothels” scattered
throughout residential areas of our stadium cities. Demand, even just speculated demand, causes
supply. To meet the demand, human trafficking is becoming a strategy of choice
for unscrupulous brothel owners, individuals, and crime syndicates.
According to a June 2010 United
States State Department Trafficking in Persons Report, "Worldwide,
the [U.S.] State Department estimated
there are 12.3 million adults and children in modern-day slavery -
including forced labour, bonded labour and forced prostitution," an Inter Press Service
reports. "That means just under two people in a thousand are victims of
human trafficking. …"
According to Val Lotan of the
Organized Crime Division in Kwa-Zulu Natal, “In South Africa, eighty percent of
all trafficking victims are forced into the sex trade.”
Not only women forced into the
sex trade against their will endure gross injustice. Many
women who enter the sex trade willingly later find themselves trapped in the
job, unable to quit, due to the threats of their pimps and brothel owners.
A colleague of mine began meeting regularly with a street
sex worker who wanted counsel on leaving the sex trade. Her pimp showed up at
the coffee shop where they met, forcibly dragged her onto the street and beat
her in broad daylight.
Two well-known Cape Town “gentlemen’s
clubs” advertise in South
Africa’s major newspapers for receptionists
and then are known to coerce the girls to perform sexual favours. If the girls
quit, their employers expose them as sex workers to their families and
communities. These clubs have been raided but not been shut down. Both papers
were informed of their participation in human trafficking and declined to pull
male sex tourist, and the buyer of sex in general, operates under the false
assumption the effects of his private choices will be confined to the brothel,
the car, or the computer he is surfing the web with. (Yes, people are
trafficked into the pornography trade as well
But, like the environment, we as a global culture are interconnected. We
cannot escape the fact that the brand of clothes we buy may fuel sweatshops in China. The
coffee we drink may enslave children picking coffee beans in the Ivory Coast. What
we look at on-line, may affect the freedom and life of a young man or woman in
another nation, or our own.
A mass awareness
programme in the United
States has empowered the American consumer
culture to buy their goods from “non-trafficked” sources of labor. For example,
an application on an I-phone can tell the American consumer which brand of tyre rates the highest on the “fair trade” scale.
As a global culture,
we must become more educated and aware, and then we can change our patterns of
behavior. But, we must first accept this simple fact: “What we do in the dark does not stay in the
dark.” Private choices have global consequences.
Lenty has seen his
ministry turn men away from the red light districts of Thailand and transform
their lives. Because of the addictive, secretive side many patrons of the sex
industry struggle with, Lenty believes men of faith need to mentor others. He’s
calling to men to rise up and lead their gender to sexual freedom and healthy
“It is our responsibility to go to these men, when very few will, and
bring the love of God to them… The Father’s love is available to all, in all
places and at all times. The hope we have in Him will cause a man to return to
his wife and become a husband. Will cause him to return to his children and
become a father. Will cause him to return to his community and become an
example, not a statistic,” says Lenty.
Regardless of your
stance on faith and God, the time has come to shed light on the mindsets
feeding money to the brothels, gentlemen’s clubs and dark street corners. The
global climate says we must turn awareness raising on its head and target the
demand side of the human trafficking issue.
head of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, recently wrote and open
letter published in the Cape
Times. “The demand for
prostitution determines supply. A strong call by men not to buy sex would
eliminate demand and therefore supply. Mr.
Africa must not become a pimp state.” Men
are part of the solution.
Stanfield is the Director of Justice ACTs, a faith-based alliance working to
combat human trafficking. This article is part of the GL Opinion and Commentary
Service, produced as part of the Red Light 2010 Campaign to say no to human
What do you think can be done to stop human trafficking? Feel free to comment in the box below