Botswana may be sitting on an underground market of sex slavery, forced labour and human trafficking ÔÇô the 2016 trafficking in persons report has revealed.
Although there has been not been any comprehensive international or domestic study of trafficking trends within Botswana, the United States Department of States report has turned up information suggesting that scores of Basarwa have been turned to slaves on private farms and cattle posts in Botswana rural west. “Officials confirmed for both adults and children of the San ethnic minority group labour conditions on private farms and cattle posts in Botswana’s rural west might rise to the level of forced labour”, the report stated.
The report has identified Botswana as a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Unemployed women, the rural poor, agricultural workers, and children have been singled out as the most vulnerable.
“Some parents in poor rural communities send their children to work for wealthier families as domestic servants in cities or in agriculture and cattle farming in remote areas, increasing their vulnerability to forced labour. Young Batswana serving as domestic workers for extended family may be denied access to education and basic necessities or subjected to confinement or verbal, physical, or sexual abuseÔÇöconditions indicative of forced labour. Batswana girls and women are possibly exploited in prostitution within the country, including in bars and along major highways by truck drivers,” states the report.
“Some women may be subjected to trafficking internally or transported from neighbouring countries and subjected to sexual exploitation. Undocumented migrant children might be vulnerable to trafficking in Botswana. The Government of Botswana does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.”
The report observed that during the reporting period, government investigated five trafficking cases and prosecuted seven traffickers under the 2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act, in comparison with none reported the previous reporting period. The cases were ongoing at the end of the reporting period. The government did not convict any traffickers. The government established the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, in accordance with the Anti-Trafficking Act, in January 2016; it held two meetings during the reporting period.
The government identified six trafficking victims and provided them food, amenities, and basic assistance, including medical and psycho-social care. The government provided social service personnel with formal written procedures to guide them in identifying potential trafficking victims among vulnerable populations; other officials remained without formal identification and referral procedures. The government launched a nationwide public awareness campaign, which also served to educate local government officials in 16 districts. It conducted a train-the-trainers event for law enforcement and immigration officials on anti-trafficking efforts. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.