By Alyssa Carrell
There is an atmosphere of evil when you enter Beaufort West, South Africa. This city of 45,000 is plagued by human trafficking.
According to Justice International:
*600,000 women and children are sex trafficked every year in Africa.
*80% of their first contact with a trafficker was through a woman.
*Trafficked women, girls and boys can be sold up to 40 times a day.
In Beaufort West, there is such a thirst for love that a child will happily follow a stranger for even the slightest possibility of acceptance. It’s a place so devoid of work that abuse and depression reign.
Longtime Extreme Response partner ATAIM (Africa to Asia Innovative Ministries) has chosen to make human trafficking prevention a part of everything it does. Located in the Western Cape, Beaufort West is a crossroads of highways and is heavily used by truckers and travelers. It’s a prime location for sex trafficking in South Africa.
ATAIM provides jobs, training, safety and love to those who are hurting and vulnerable. It holds anti-trafficking training in schools, including human trafficking simulations. It is these simulations that have made the most impact, combining knowledge with experiential learning.
“The challenges we face is that South Africans don’t know about trafficking and need to be educated as well. It is great to see the children understand and ask questions during our anti-trafficking training,” said Pierre Roux, founder and missions director of ATAIM.
ATAIM runs surprise simulations whereby they attempt to traffic the kids and teachers. These simulations remind the children to be careful and demonstrate how easy it is to fall for the lies of traffickers. ATAIM has “trafficked” many children—some more than once—and even one school principal. This form of training may sound harsh and drastic, but when the problem is extreme, extreme measures are the only defense.
We live in a world that possess great evil – where women and children are ravaged, exploited and discarded.
But we also live in a world with great hope. There are people like those who serve with ATAIM who willingly wade into the darkness to bring those who’ve been lost back to the light. It’s complicated, messy and often dangerous, but it’s a worthwhile risk to protect the vulnerable.
Learn more about ER’s anti-trafficking work here.