Two organisations who are working on the issue of human trafficking in South Africa joined forces and launched a campaign at the Sanlam Cape Town marathon on Sunday. The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon has always been staged on the Sunday nearest to the 24thof September, South Africa’s Heritage Day. The route is designed, not only to take in Cape Town spectacular natural beauty, but also to enable runners to traverse the City’s rich historical sites, in a running celebration of South Africa’s oldest, ‘Mother’ city.
These organisations, namely Embrace Dignity and Anex (Activists networking against the exploitation of children) have partnered to launch the Relay of Care campaign to aid in creating more awareness around the issue of human trafficking, specifically in South Africa. The directors of both organisations took part in the marathon. Claudia Smit, the director of Anex, ran the last 500 meters of her 42.2 kilometres with chains around her feet (symbolising the chains of human trafficking). As Claudia crossed the finish line, the chains were broken and balloons were released into the air.
This symbolised the launch of the campaign while the breaking of the chains, symbolised the freedom of choice for every person, every child in South Africa. The colour purple is symbolic as it is now associated with human trafficking.
Jeremey Routledge from Embrace Dignity says that this campaign is about caring for people who have been trafficked and prostituted.
“I ran the 10km and my time was one hour, 10 minutes, but the champion is Claudia,” Routledge said.
Smit says that this race was the toughest thing that she had to do and compared the race to life, where things in her words “are up and down”.
“We want to make more people aware of human trafficking so that we can eliminate it,” Smit continued.
The concept behind the Relay of Care campaign was motivated by the view that human trafficking takes place in a relationship and chains are involved where people are abducted.
“When Embrace Dignity heard that I was running the race, we decided to start a campaign together against trafficking and we came up with the idea of a Relay of Care because in a relay when I hand you the baton then something is moving forward and something can be done,” Smit explained.
“In society people look away from social ills and we need to establish a new chain where people report on things happening in the community especially if they suspect that human trafficking is occurring.”
This campaign will run until the 10th of December and will end on Human rights day. The activists are also highlighting a helpline where people can report on trafficking cases. The number is 0800 555 999.
South Africa is ranked among the 10 countries in Africa where trafficking is at its highest. Men, women and children are not only trafficked for sexual exploitation but for forced labour as well as other forms of exploitation involving crime. The covert nature of human trafficking makes this multi-million-dollar industry difficult to assess and there are few reliable statistics on the number of persons trafficked in the southern African region. VOC (Umarah Hartley)