Swakopmund — Emma Noases* (36), a survivor of the degrading human trafficking social evil, last week narrated how she escaped the gripping jaws of this illegal practice.
An emotional Noases, a transgender who regards 'herself' as a woman, chronicled her painful childhood, punctuated by rejection by her family after her sexuality started to emerge.
Biologically a boy, she was left alone to fend for herself and later trafficked to Angola as a sex slave by her older lover.
Noases was one of the speakers who addressed the community during the belated commemoration of the World Day Against Trafficking of Persons that was held in Swakopmund on Wednesday last week.
Noases' misery started when her mother, a devotee of the Catholic faith, had to choose between Noases and the rest of the family. The mother was not sure how society would view her family by housing a gay son.
Noases says she found herself on the street at the age of 12, after being raped by her own biological father whom she decided to move in with after being rejected by her mother.
She then made a conscious decision to get involved in prostitution in order to survive.
"That is how I met my trafficker at the age of 17. My trafficker trapped me into believing that he is kind and loving. However, he saw that I was vulnerable and took advantage of me," an emotional Noases said.
According Noases, the trafficker used to take her to exclusive gay parties around the country and forced her to have sex with men against her will, because he knew she was financially dependent on him.
"My real nightmare started when we attended a party where I was drugged. To my shock, I woke up in Luanda, Angola, in a room naked," she told her shocked audience.
"I was told by my trafficker that I was his money-making machine, as countless men would have sex with me without my consent. I literally stayed naked without food, money or clothes and at the mercy of those men that would just come in and have sex with me," Noases said.
She said it broke her heart that the man that supposedly loved her put her through such horror and that there was no way of leaving the vicious circle of abuse.
She said a Good Samaritan, who took pity on her, arranged her escape and sought the help of a long-distance bus driver travelling to Namibia to sneak her out of Angola.
Disappointingly, she says the bus driver instead of taking pity on her; he also raped her and threw her out of the bus along the way.
"However, I found my way back and I am here to tell my story. It happened 17 years ago but it still feels like today, hence every time I speak or think about it I get emotional. Despite the trauma I suffered, I consider myself a survivor and not a victim," she explained.
Noases is just one of the many who fell victim to the third largest billion-dollar illegal trade in the world.
According statics provided by the Namibian Police Force, since 2010 Namibia has reported 35 human trafficking cases, 20 of which are on the court roll while 15 are being investigated.
A 2018 US government 'Trafficking in Persons Report on Namibia' concluded that government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking though it is making significant efforts to do so.
"The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, therefore, Namibia remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by signing the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill, prosecuting more traffickers, identifying more trafficking victims the majority of whom were victims of forced labour, and referring some victims to care in a partially government-funded NGO (non-governmental organisation) shelter," reads the report.
The Namibian, citing police sources, reported in June this year that bringing up somebody else's child and making them work for you while keeping them out of school also qualifies as human trafficking.
As reported over the past five years, Namibia is a source and destination country for children, and to a lesser extent women, subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.
Some victims, the report further notes, are initially offered legitimate work for adequate wages, but are then subjected to forced labour in urban centres and on commercial farms.
"Namibian children are subjected to forced labour in agriculture, cattle herding, and domestic service, and to sex trafficking in Windhoek and Walvis Bay. A 2015 media report alleged that foreign sex tourists from southern Africa and Europe exploit child sex trafficking victims. Namibians commonly house and care for children of distant relatives to provide expanded educational opportunities. However, in some instances, these children are exploited in forced labour."
*Name changed to protect survivor's identity