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Social workers assist victim of alleged child sexual exploitation

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The shocking discovery that a 5 year old girl from Diep River was allegedly sexual exploited for money and food has prompted child protection social workers to place her into temporary safe care. The Western Cape Department of Social Development said the girl was allegedly being abused and forced to perform sex-acts on older men for money and food. It’s alleged that the child’s mother exposed the little girl to older men, for sexual exploitation.

The department’s Sihle Ngobese said in line with the Children’s Act of 2005, social workers have intervened and have acted to protect the child. This matter is now subject to an investigation by social work teams and police.

“It is distressing to note allegations that the child is often left uncared for and neglected. Thankfully, vigilant neighbours noticed that the child is often left alone at home and acted to report the matter,” said department spokesperson Sihle Ngobese.

“Ensuring the safety and care of children requires a whole-of-society approach. Child protection is everybody’s responsibility. If you see something, say something. Residents must report any abandoned, abused, neglected or missing children to the police or to the DSD Hotline on 0800 220 250.”

According to Child Welfare South Africa, a growing form of sexual exploitation of children in South Africa is “survival sex”. This is a situation where sex is exchanged for basic necessities such as food, shelter, education or to settle a debt owed by a family member. Furthermore, the increasing cross-border movement of people and new technologies have enabled the sexual exploitation of children to evolve and manifest in new forms.

Using psychological manipulation, the perpetrators lure victims into sex slavery through promises of a better education, jobs, family protection and economic support. The perpetrators also recruit victims by promising their families they will be better taken care of by means of cash paid to the family through the child’s earnings.

The most common manifestations and most closely linked forms of SEC in South Africa are exploitation through prostitution, pornography, child sex trafficking, online sexual exploitation of children and sex for a favour by adults.

Dr Benny Obayi, acting National Executive Director at Child Welfare South Africa, said between May and June of 2017, the South African Police Service rescued more than 10 young girls from sex slave dens in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

“The rescue of children entrapped in sex slave dens has become a regular occurrence, but it would seem society has not awakened to the dangers of this reality.” VOC


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