During the games, thousands of people are visiting South Africa, which is yet to put in place legislation against trafficking in persons.
World Vision and like-minded partners are concerned that in the absence of anti-trafficking legislation, vulnerable children will not be sufficiently protected. It is feared that the rate of trafficking of children may increase during the World Cup if measures to protect children are not increased.
Lack of reliable statistics due to the clandestine nature of trafficking in persons and the absence of a coordinated response to the problem in South Africa has made addressing the problem a challenge. Cases of trafficking in persons have not been recorded as such in the country because there is no specific domestic legislation on trafficking in persons.
Although there are 16 pieces of legislation in South Africa to combat trafficking, these are all fragmented and do not adequately address prevention, protection and prosecution, especially as it relates to safeguarding the rights and dignity of children.
In South Africa, there is minimal service provision for trafficked children. World Vision therefore calls on all South Africans and visitors to the country to combat and prevent child trafficking during World Cup events.
As they keep their eyes on the ball, they also need to keep their eyes on children to ensure children are sufficiently protected.
The hope is that civil society and all ruling institutions will increase their efforts to ensure optimal protection of children against trafficking or any form of injustice during and after the World Cup.
World Vision has joined with Johannesburg Child Welfare and the Olive Leaf Foundation to manage a Child-Friendly Space at the Elkah Stadium in Soweto.
The center will provide a safe and supervised environment where vulnerable children and those at risk will access temporary care. It will also provide emergency tracing and reunification services for lost children, as well as separated and unaccompanied minors in and around FIFA Fan Fest events.
In addition, the center will offer onsite specialized child protection services and referrals for children identified as affected by abuse, neglect, violence or exploitation.
Progress has been made
“The existing efforts by government to provide better mechanisms for reporting child abuse and neglect need to be acknowledged,” says Lehlohonolo Chabeli, National Director of World Vision South Africa.
President Jacob Zuma launched the Children’s Act last week and linked it to the launch of Child Protection Week, which ran until 30 May.
The government also highlighted the benefits of the infrastructure put in place for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, for the benefit of children now and in the future.
Chabeli calls on the global community to use the 2010 FIFA World Cup platform to unite in efforts to protect children from anything that may prohibit them from living a life in all its fullness.
“Let us keep our eyes on our children, let us open our eyes to the harsh reality of child trafficking, and let us show the will to rid society from anything that spells danger to our children.”
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, please visit www.worldvision.org/press.
Casey Calamusa 253.394.2214