South Africa: The Voices of Human Trafficking Victims and Survivors Must Be Heard Above All Others to Elicit Change


Victims' voices matter. Victims are a vital part of understanding the impact and best responses to exploitation and human trafficking. Their lived experiences offer the most authentic understanding and familiarity of this life-changing criminal practice.

Ajwang' Warria, Heather Dixon, Margaret Roper, Susan Marx, Mosagoaneng Leteane and Cynderella Chadambuka are researchers on a national counter-trafficking study in South Africa.

Every year, 30 July marks the call by the United Nations and member states as "World Day Against Trafficking in Persons" to raise awareness of trafficking in persons (TIP), but also to advocate for the victims of TIP.

Silence is a key enabler for perpetrators. If victims' voices are not invited or allowed at the table, nothing changes and the violence goes on.

This year, the theme is "Victims' voices lead the way", aiming to put victims at the centre of the campaign. This highlights the significance of victims' voices, the influence survivor engagement can have and ultimately advocates for victim empowerment.

In this article, the terms victim and survivor are used interchangeably -- when researching trafficking in South Africa, the authors have also seen the important distinction raised of the "victim-survivor" continuum and the way in which we refer to victims....

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