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Botswana : source and destination for sex trafficking – Report

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It however says Botswana has made  progress in  investigating trafficking cases

QUEEN MOSARWE

Botswana has once again been named a source, transit and  destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. A report by the   U.S. Department of State on 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report  (TIP)  released last week states.
According to the findings of the report, susceptible persons to trafficking are  unemployed women,  the rural poor,  agricultural workers and children. “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,” it reads in part. The report explains that young Batswana  serving as domestic workers for extended families are at a risk  of being  denied access to education and basic necessities or subjected to confinement or verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, which are conditions  indicative of forced labor. It reveals that officials confirmed to trafficking of adults and children of the San  on private farms and cattle posts  in the Western part of the country giving rise to forced labour.
The report further pinpoints to  Batswana girls  being  exploited in prostitution within the  country, including in bars and along major highways by truck  drivers and that  some women may be subjected to trafficking internally or transported from neighboring countries and subjected to sexual exploitation.
It pins the current situation on the country’s  partial compliance with minimum standards for elimination of trafficking, despite  having made  significant efforts in that regard . “During the reporting period, the 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,” it reads. It adds that the government has however not convicted any traffickers. Furthermore, it states that government identified six trafficking victims and provided them food, basic assistance, including medical and psycho-social care and amenities.
Botswana is now placed on Tier 2, having moved up from last year’s  placement of  Tier 2 Watch List. Tier 2 is a list of countries whose governments do not fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s  minimum standards  but are making significant efforts to meet those standards. “The government investigated five trafficking cases and prosecuted seven traffickers under the 2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act, in comparison with investigating an unreported number of trafficking cases and obtaining no prosecutions the previous reporting period,” it reads in part, adding that the country increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts.
To this end, the report    recommends  that   Botswana   amend the anti-trafficking law to ensure sufficient and stringent penalties to restrict the ability of judges to impose  fines in lieu of prison time when sentencing traffickers.  Furthermore, it recommends that there be continued efforts to investigate, prosecute and convict traffickers using the 2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act for both internal and transnational trafficking cases  amongst others.
Reached for comment, Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security Manager for Trafficking in Person Madoda Nasha said they were pleased about the report’s findings and its acknowledgement of Botswana’s  improvement. “The good thing is that where they  could not  find verifiable information or did not have information about a certain aspect, they  noted it as speculation. In that way, the reader would be able to distinguish between speculation and a fact.”
Meanwhile, he said there was need to  conduct a study about trafficking in Botswana to establish the extent of the problem and its causes. “As it stands, the extent of  human trafficking not only in Botswana but the whole SADC  region is not yet  known and we are in the process of  conducting a comprehensive research on the problem,” he said.
Nasha says countries ought  to conduct their own researches on  causes of trafficking. “ Poverty and lack of education are usually said to be the causes, but we need to look beyond that,” he said stating that  they are other factors, for example in the case of Botswana which  could be attributed  to the problem such as the social  fabric and traditional practices .

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