Breaking the Cycle of Vulnerability for Victims of Trafficking


A new report launched by IOM's Regional Office for Southern Africa finds that trafficked women in Eastern and Southern Africa do not receive the sexual, reproductive and mental health care they desperately need.

The report "Breaking the Cycle of Vulnerability - responding to the health needs of trafficked women in East and Southern Africa", says that there are not enough trained counsellors to provide adequate health care and support to victims and that organizations active in the field of counter trafficking need to better address their health and mental needs.  

According to the report, the trafficking process increases women’s vulnerability to health-related problems including Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), HIV and post-traumatic stress disorder, which, if not properly addressed, could lead to chronic anxiety, self harm and suicide.

The report finds that the health service providers interviewed for the study had little or no knowledge or understanding of trafficking and therefore, could not respond adequately to the needs of victims.

The report recommends training health service providers in the region to identify and refer trafficked women to better respond to their health needs. It also suggests that health is mainstreamed into more traditional counter-trafficking responses in the region, and that regional referral and information networks are developed.

Trafficking from, to and through East and Southern Africa is extremely varied and complex with, for example, Mozambican and Asian women trafficked to South Africa for sexual exploitation and Ethiopian women trafficked to the Middle East for domestic servitude.

The report, which was developed with the financial support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), is launched to coincide with South Africa's Human Trafficking Awareness Week, which began yesterday.

Themed "Blow the Whistle", the week aims to raise awareness of the growing issue of human trafficking in South Africa and encourages members of the public to report suspected cases through the IOM national toll-free helpline number: 0800 555 999.

The event, organised by South African marketing company Diasporafric and IOM’s Southern African Counter Trafficking Assistance Programme (SACTAP) has received the support of Metro FM, SABC and the Daily Sun Newspaper.

The report can be downloaded here. Hard copies are currently available at IOM's Regional Office in Pretoria.

For further information, please contact:

Barbara Rijks
Tel.: +27 (0) 12 342 2789

© IOM 2006