Claim N1 route back for women, men and children

News of an active slave trade in Libya has come as we mark the 16 Days of Activism For No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.

The plight of people who are trafficked is one of the focus areas of an NGO called Forward Fund, which supports an annual campaign to highlight this exploitation with other organisations including Womensnet, 1000 Women, Anex and Girlsnet.

“Every year thousands of vulnerable young people along the N1 fall prey to traffickers who lure them with promises of a better life in big cities,” says activist Linda Wilson, a member of the NGO and resident of Sun Valley.

“An annual activity of this campaign to unite against human trafficking, is an event called ‘Claim back the N1 run’.

“This year the run is between Rawsonville and Beaufort West, from Tuesday December 5 to Saturday December 9.

“This is also the last week of the 16 Days of Activism. The aim of this activity is to claim the N1 route back for women, men and children who daily get trafficked on this national highway. This is one of the routes used by traffickers to transport their victims from their home towns to other towns, normally the bigger cities, or across the border and then exploit them; whether through labour or sexually exploitative practices,” Ms Wilson said.

On Tuesday December 5, 16 runners set off on their journey of support from the weigh-in bridge at Rawsonville, on a four-day run. When they are done they will have covered a distance of 375km to Beaufort West. “The running symbolises them adding their X in support of ending human trafficking and standing in unity with the people who have been trafficked – and those who are currently in bondage – with the message to #stoptrafficking,” Ms Wilson says.

“As the 16 runners are en route from Rawsonville to Beaufort West, they will raise awareness, do talks and show unity with the vulnerable communities all along the N1 route, where poverty and inequality are two of the main reasons human trafficking is seen as an escape from circumstances.”

There will also be open water swims to raise awareness of the campaign.

Two long distance swimmers, Ameen Stemmet and Abdullah Peters have joined the campaign. “They are planning to swim 37.5km, which will relate to the 375km the runners will cover.

“The moral degeneration of post-apartheid South Africa has given impetus to the sex-trafficking of women, labour trafficking of younger men (who normally escape statistics) and very young children whose basic rights are violated on an almost every day basis. Most of the appalling variation of human trafficking and modern day slavery exist behind the polite veneer of the ‘rainbow nation’. These include debt-bondaging and labour brokering in the mining and domestic labour sectors, the exploitation and trafficking of men and boys into slave-like conditions in agriculture, organ trafficking, involuntary sex work, the illegal adoption of young children and baby breeding for trafficking purposes.”

Anex is an NPO which aims to combat exploitation such as human trafficking through awareness raising and training, advocacy and legal reform. Anex programme director Claudia Burger will be joining the other 16 runners and is running with her cellphone so she an be contacted on 083 587 3269.

Ms Wilson personally took part in a candle-lighting event on Tuesday, December 5, in the Methodist Church, Cape Town, where candles were lit for the victims, and in recognition of the runners on the N1.

On Saturday December 9, there is another function; a self defence workshop called Choose your Bruise at Erin Hall, Rondebosch, for R100, and in Muizenberg there is the Shimmy for Shoes Belly Dance workshop between 3.30pm and 5pm.

For more information, call Linda on 083 384 0590 or 021 789 0805.