Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)


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by Dr Masimba Mavaza

Dr Masimba Mavaza

You might think that slavery is something you only read about in history books. Unfortunately, the sad and shocking truth is that slavery exists today both in our country and around the world. It is known now as human trafficking, and it is a growing evil of major proportions, making an enormous amount of money for those who enslave mostly those who are taken from Zimbabwe as domestic workers.

Although it is difficult to determine an exact number due to the relations and, illegal nature of the activity. Sadly nobody Has raised any awareness of human trafficking, take appropriate steps to eliminate this evil. This evil is prevalent among Zimbabweans in the UK who bring their relatives from Zimbabwe make them work as house maids for no pay and dump them once their children are grown. This is the common human trafficking practiced by many Zimbabweans in the UK.

Though the two terms are often used interchangeably, human trafficking is not human smuggling. Trafficking is the recruiting, transporting, harboring, or receiving of a person through force or through deception in order to exploit him or her for forced labor, or Human smuggling, on the other hand, is the transport of an individual from one destination to another, usually with his or her consent - for example, across a border. Zimbabweans in the UK have increasingly smuggled people through the Republic of Ireland.

Trafficking is done by giving false pretences of employment or tourism. The most affected group is the people from low income background and simpleminded people. Specially trafficking is done bu the Zimbabweans in UK for cheap labor, In the house keeping industry or those who will be forced to work as maids.

Mostly women who have been subjected to discrimination, social pressure, abuse, etc. and children as well as people looking for foreign employment,are the ones who are deceived and told of greener pastures in England. Little would they know that they are being plugged out of their comfort and planted into the crocodile's mouth.

Trafficked Zimbabwean survivors of human trafficking share their plight in a heart wrecking way.
Across the world, millions of women and girls live in the long shadows of human trafficking. Whether ensnared by force, coercion, or deception, they live in limbo, in fear, in pain.

Because human trafficking operates in darkness, it's difficult to get exact numbers of victims. However, the vast majority of detected trafficking victims are women and very old women who are now known as vana gogo vepamba. and girls.
In times of poverty, conflict and gender inequality, women and girls' lives are at-risk for exploitation. Human trafficking is a heinous crime that shatters lives, families and dreams.

Zimbabwean trafficked and trapped women came out to tell their stories. Their words are testament to their incredible resilience and point toward the urgency for action to prosecute perpetrators and support survivors along their journeys to restored dignity, health and hope.

Gogo Chaitezvi left Zimbabwe when she was 57. She was asked by her sister's daughter to come to the Uk and look after the Children. She was assured that she will be paid 750 pounds a month for being a house maid. Being my sister's child who has invited me. And that she did the visa application and paid for the ticket I found it profitable to come to England. I was so hopeful i was so over the moon. " said Gogo Chaitezvi.   " on arrival in England all seemed well. But the very day she took my passport and said she was keeping it safe.That was the last time I saw my passport"  Gogo had come to the UK with the hopes of finding work. However, without a visa she was forced to stay as a house maid. Things around gogo started changing. She was not allowed to talk to anybody. She was not allowed to open a bank account. She stayed a life of a slave. When she asked for her pay she was told that the first two years she will be working to pay back the costs of her travel. She protested and said she was never told that she will pay back. She was simply told to work or get deported. Everyday gogo was threatened with deportation should she ask for her money. She was never told how much her cost were but she was told she was to work with no  pay for two years. The painful thing is that the plane ticket from Zimbabwe is only 500 pounds. The visa application for a visitors visa is ninety pounds. 90 pounds. Gogo was asked for two years to pay back Five hundred and ninety pounds. She was not allowed to eat on the same table. She was not allowed to go out to church or any gatherings. She was actually isolated.  Gogo never received a penny for all the times she toiled in the house of her sister's daughter. Fifteen years years later Gogo was shocked when she was told to go because the kids are now grown. Her passport was lost and there was no money coming her way. She was kicked out of the house like a dog which has eaten chicken eggs. She could only cry. Gogo did not know anyone in UK. She was never given a chance to socialise. In this age gogo in England cannot use an android phone. Gogo was picked by a samaritan and was taken to red cross who provided her accommodation. Now she has no right to stay in the UK. She was humiliated and shaken by her experience in her sister's  daughter's house. Gogo struggled to find relatives or employment. When a woman offered her a accommodation she welcomed the opportunity. She is now struggling to get her dtay. She has no passport no birth certificate she does not even know what to do.

Her house in Zimbabwe was sold and his two children who are now 30 and 33 are in South Africa she cannot contact them. She does not even have their phone numbers. Gogo cries real tears of grief as she narrates her story. The sister's daughter who is now a nurse  is a member of a pentecostal church where she is very active. Gogos life is shuttered and she finds it difficult to say there is a God in heaven.

Tears will only flow down gogo was abused by her child a fellow Zimbabwean.  
But things took a turn for the worse after arriving in London gogo was told by the home office that she has overstayed and she has to be deported.

Mandie another Zimbabwean victim of abuse shared this. She  recalls that, "They held us in an apartment and took away our passports. They told us that we'd be photographed again for our new employment documents, to be registered as waitresses. It felt strange, but we believed them."

Then, Mandie and the other women were put on a plane to Republic of Ireland. On arrival they were taken out of the airport then asked to look for their way in England. It was easy to walk across the boarder into Notthen Ireland it is an open border. Once you are in Northern Ireland you are in England.  When I got to England I was to go and stay with a man who was the Agency owner. She was quickly given a job to do were she would go and work in an industry. Going to any job in England is called a shift. So I was going to shifts working in a factory and working in shoos. I will be sent to work to any place. Because i had no passport mu agency told me my money will be put in the account of my agent who was staying with me or was it me staying with him. So I never got a salary all my money was with agency. This agency was run by a Zimbabwean family. They ill treated all of us  like slaves. You were not allowed to be sick. On this day i got a terrible headache when I failed to wake up the next morning for work I was fired   And I was left to live on the streets, ashamed and unemployed. I then had to work in the sex industry until I was approached by an organization that assists women subjected to sex and drug trafficking. "They offered me work. I wasn't sure that I would fit in, but slowly I began to trust them," she says. The organisation assisted Mandie she got her right to stay and remain in the UK.
Now,she works to prevent the exact situation in which she found herself. As an outreach worker she tells the girls in Zimbabwe not to jump into the job offers which look lucrative.  England is not that good to abandon your country under the promise of greener pastures.

People must prevent their futures from unfolding as hers did, Mandie provides the women with health and safety resources and information about legal aid. "To stop trafficking of women and girls, we have to inform people about the full consequences of human trafficking and how to detect the signs. It is critical to start raising awareness about this in schools, starting young, so that they do not become victims."

Suzana Matimbe is twenty nine she had this to say
"what I'm passing through right now is so big, so serious, I see myself as a grown-up," I lived with a family who brought me from Zimbabwe. They treated me so bad. They took my passport. They isolated me from any  human being.  I slept on the sofa for a month then I was told to sleep on the floor as they said I was damaging the sofa.   I was not allowed to go outside the house. They could literally beat me up and i was so sore. I was not registered with any doctor so when I got sick I had to brave it on.

It pains me to think that Thousands of people leave home every day, putting their lives in the hands of smugglers in search of a better life.  

Suzana did just that. She felt there was no future for her in her home of Chitungwiza City, In Zimbabwe so she sought opportunities elsewhere. She was put into contact with a man, Ncube who promised to pay her way to England and use his connections to find her a visa.

Soon after meeting Ncube she was called to his house and made to swear that she wouldn't try to run away. In March 2016, she, with another lady were taken to south Africa where they boarded a plane to Republic of Ireland.    All the time their passports were in the hands of a man they came to know as Makamba. Having managed to cross into Republic Of Ireland they were shipped to London in a Ferry. Their hopes were shuttered when they were reduced to be maids.

The most painful thing is that Zimbabweans have turned against their own. They have unleashed cruelty on their own country men. The irony of it all is that it is dine in England under the queen's nose.
Thousands of Zimbabweans are roaming the streets of England and Wales with no future and no hope. Their chances of good life crushed.

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