Child Abuse and Exploitation In Africa - Part 1
If you were able to part the mists of time and gaze out over South Africa, as it existed during the time of the San hunters and Khoi-Khoi herders (native people of the region), with the lush vegetation, green pastures, abundance of food and a society free of colonialism. It would come as no surprise if you would remark: "What went wrong"?
From the first contact of colonialism and slavery, Africa was in a constant state of turmoil. Below is a list of events that followed and forever changed the fate of our children.
The diamond and gold rush.
Apartheid and the resistance, followed by the Sharpeville killings (see foot note below) massive violation of human rights, including detention with-out trial, which resulted in mysterious deaths (or shall I say murders) of some of the greatest freedom fighters in South African history.
The eventual dismantling of apartheid which led to the eminent release of Mr. Nelson Mandela
After gaining political freedom in 1994 we said: "Free at last". Free from the minority oppression and domination that ripped the heart and soul from millions of black South Africans.
This heralded a new beginning, the Rebirth of our nation. Never in our wildest dreams could we visualize, as a young democracy, the daunting challenges that we would face, with in our new dispensation. The displacement of huge quantities of people (GROUP AREAS ACT) resulted in the breakdown of economies and the dismantling of the family and community support systems. Our new government inherited huge debts from the previous regime, along with all the baggage incurred during Apartheid, namely:
High unemployment rates.
Non-existent social welfare support.
Changing parenting patterns.
High levels of domestic violence.
Low levels of education.
High dropout rates at schools.
Lack of effective safety and protection services.
The breakdown of family structures.
The exploits of the past, culminated in our children becoming the most vulnerable within our society. Rising crime levels clearly indicate that many young people leave home because their family environment became unstable or because there is desperate poverty. They turn to living on the streets with the idealistic expectations of a child, trying to escape the burdens of their family and township life. They do not anticipate the harsh realities that they are faced with on the streets.
Child prostitution in South Africa is usually a case of survival. Children are often forced to work because of economic circumstances - they have to contribute to the family's income or provide for themselves. Our children became the scatterings of South Africa. Organized crime syndicates and unscrupulous employers flourished under these conditions. This gave rise to increased child abuse and exploitation.
Sale of child brides.
An increased demand for black children, especially from European and North American men, for exploitation
Children being made to work under inappropriate environments and conditions sweatshops, agriculture, domestic service, etc
Children being used or trafficked for the use of their organs
The mistaken belief that having intercourse with a virgin will rid the perpetrator of HIV/AIDS.
Children being used as drug carriers.
Children being murdered and gutted and their dead bodies used to courier drugs across country borders.