The Ministry of Local Government, in conjunction with UNICEF and ChildLine, have launched a Child Trafficking Prevention and Management Campaign, aimed at protecting children from one of the worst forms of child rights violations in Botswana.
Speaking at the official launch of the campaign, the Director of the Department of Social Services, Loeto Dilampi, said, “Combating child trafficking can never be successful through individual efforts. A collaborative effort is, therefore, mandatory as trafficking of humans is complex and part of organized crime.”
He noted that the campaign is an attempt to bring to the fore a phenomenon that is viewed as a foreign concept by most Batswana and shrouded with inadequate information.
“Through the campaign, we aim to provide education as well as building capacity of the key service providers to combat the incidence of trafficking in the country.”
“By creating awareness, we intend to empower our children and communities to identify potential traffickers and be in a position to protect them from trafficking,” he said.
Dilampi noted that the campaign marks the beginning of a journey that would hopefully advance protection of all children.
Botswana ratified various international instruments that seek to combat the incidence of trafficking.
It ratified the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child, the Palermo protocol, the ILO Convention (C138) and the ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour (C182).The conventions seek member states to outlaw incidence of exploitation and trafficking of children.
Child trafficking is a multifaceted issue thus Dilampi urged every individual to heed to this call to protect children from the abuse of trafficking and separation from family.
He emphasized that people should guard against child trafficking as this has emotional impact; feelings of shame, low self esteem, stigma, fear and depression. He noted that trafficked children are subjected to prostitution, forced into marriage or illegally adopted; they provide cheap or unpaid labour or work as house servants.
Dilampi said trafficking violates children’s rights to be protected, grow up in a family environment and have access to education. He urged stakeholders to have a part to play in cutting the chain.
Dilampi noted that child trafficking is viewed as a foreign concept by both the professionals and members of the public.
He said the campaign is very important as Botswana is used as a transit point for other traffickers, such that trafficked children from other countries in the region often pass through Botswana to their destinations.
“The campaign will help assist in identifying and addressing gaps that exist with regards to child trafficking,” he said.
Events like the World Cup that the region is hosting have brought issues like increased sex demand in the past, placing women and children in a vulnerable situation.
The Station Officer for Airport police, Keakile Banneetse, noted that Botswana is ready to face such issues of human trafficking during the World Cup period.
He said that there is tight security at the Airport and the number of police officers that will be patrolling has been increased.
Batswana are urged to contact the Social Services Department or Childline on their toll free number, 3900900, on issues that relate to child trafficking or other related child welfare issues.