Smugglers along the Zimbabwean-South African border are reportedly forcing Zimbabwean women in to prostitution or selling them off as wives to pay for their trafficking fee, according to Sky News.
As more Zimbabweans continue to flee economic hardships and drought in their country, smugglers are taking advantage of the situation by luring young Zimbabwean girls and women in to prostitution.
According to Health24, Zimbabwean women, some as young as 9 years old, are being trafficked in to South Africa, where they end up being forced in to prostitution.
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A former South African border control officer said that the number of Zimbabweans crossing in to South Africa has gone up by 35 percent over the last year, with some entrants saying that hundreds of illegal migrants are crossing every day.
However not all Zimbabwean migrants stay in South Africa after crossing over; some are only interested in buying food items and other commodities as they are far cheaper in South Africa than in Zimbabwe.
Rape, Forced Marriage & Prostitution
Although they are usually running away from poverty, most of the Zimbabwean women fleeing to South Africa end up working as prostitutes or being sold off as wives by their smugglers in order to raise their smuggling fee.
Of her ordeal in South Africa, one Zimbabwean woman said she was held in a shack for three weeks by her smugglers who passed her around as a prostitute for money.
She was later married off for a fee to a stranger, another male Zimbabwean, with whom she is currently living as a wife.
“He brings me food every day and looks after me, and he’s always looking for a job for me. I think one day I can learn to love him,” the woman told Sky News.
The migrants say they are forced to pay their smugglers in Johannesburg a fee of 1,500 rand, and if they can’t raise the money, they are beaten and raped.
A recent report prepared by South African opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA) claimed that girls from poor neighboring countries are lured in to the country with the promise of a better life and employment.
The report, which was published by News24, said that girls are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude while boys are forced to work in street vending, food service, begging, criminal activities, and agriculture.