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Grizelda Grootbroom

There are an estimated 155,000 people living in modern slavery in South Africa (GSI 2018). South Africa remains a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. South African children were recruited from poor, rural areas to urban centres, such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and Bloemfontein, where girls were subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude and boys are forced to work in street vending, food service, begging, criminal activities, and agriculture. Local criminal rings organized child sex trafficking, Russian and Bulgarian crime syndicates facilitated trafficking within the Cape Town commercial sex industry, and Thai and Chinese nationals often organized the sex trafficking of Asian men and women. Nigerian syndicates dominated the commercial sex industry in several provinces. To a lesser extent, syndicates recruited South African women to Europe and Asia, where some are forced into prostitution, domestic servitude, or drug smuggling. Grizelda was 18 when she moved from Cape Town to Johannesburg on the promise of a friend she would have somewhere to stay. However, upon arrival, Grizelda’s friend took her to a house and after she left, Grizelda never saw her again. After a few hours, men began to arrive. Grizelda was subjected to physical abuse and forced in to prostitution.

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The Global Slavery Index estimates that approximately 248,700 people live in conditions of modern slavery in South Africa. 43% of victims in forced labour were identified by the Walk Free survey to be subjected to commercial sexual exploitation. Though the purchasing of sex is criminalised, the sex industry thrives on the street, in brothers and in private residences. South African women, women from neighbouring states and Thai, Chinese, Russian and Brazilian women have been identified as victims of commercial sexual exploitation in South Africa. South African women have also been trafficked abroad, predominantly to Europe.  Elanie was abused and neglected from a very young age. She was sexually molested until the age of 14 years old by both her mother’s boyfriends, teachers and her brother. Alcohol featured at an early age during her life, being given it to keep her quiet from the age of 6. After she left school Elanie was looking for work when she was sold to an escort agency and subjected to sexual abuse by numerous men for 8 months.