“After years of abuse, I managed to escape from the family that made me their slave.” Thus begins the story of Annastazia, a young 16-year-old woman who has lived a difficult life in Tanzania since her mother died.
WeWorld – an organization committed for 50 years to guaranteeing the rights of women, boys and girls in 25 countries around the world, including Italy – has collected testimonies from Annastazia and from many other women, girls and boys victims of human trafficking on the occasion of the International day against human trafficking which is celebrated on 30 July.
The data is alarming. As Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2020 UNODC (United Nations Office in Drugs and Crime), for every 10 victims of human trafficking – identified globally – 5 are women and 2 are girls. Overall, 50% of identified victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation and 38% are subjected to forced labor (approximately 25 million people).
In sub-Saharan Africa, most are victims boys and girls and represent over 60% of victims of human trafficking, most of them for work and, for women, forced marriages. Indeed, it is no coincidence that the phenomenon of school dropout is common in Tanzania, and it is estimated that around 1.5 million young boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 17 have dropped out of school: around one in five people in primary school, while half dropped out with studying as a 17-year-old.
Annastazia is just one of the many female victims of human trafficking in the world who end up in the circle of modern slavery. In fact, slavery still exists in many heterogeneous forms and the ILO (International Labor Organization) defines it as the “situation of exploitation from which a person cannot escape due to threats, violence, coercion, deception and/or abuse of power”. Therefore not only domestic servitude, but also sexual exploitation and forced labor in construction or agriculture.
“In Tanzania the young victims of sexual abuse and violence – he explains Antonio Piccoli, WeWorld Tanzania Country Representative – not receiving adequate assistance. Physical violence is deeply rooted in the country’s traditions, culture and norms, and practices such as physical punishment are common and accepted in both the home and school. We support children exposed to abuse through legal, psychological and medical assistance. For this reason, we have carried out actions for family reunification and strengthening the victims, as well as information campaigns and events in local communities with the aim of raising awareness of children’s rights with the aim of preventing violence ”.
WeWorld has been active in Tanzania since 2010 and managing since 2017 KIWOHEDE Bunju Centre, a multi-purpose center with the aim of protecting and educating girls, boys and youth from the communities around Kinondoni district but also from other districts like Ilala, Temeke, Ubungo and Kigamboni in Dar es Salaam. Here, the organization has welcomed around 400 boys and girls (90% girls), all between the ages of 10 and 21 in recent years. Between psychosocial assistance, youth education, professional training courses and sports activities, we try to restore a peaceful life for the many women who have been victims of human trafficking. Stories of violence and hope.
Annastazia’s life in Tanzania was full of house changes and broken dreams. “After finishing primary school – he says – I started high school, but only 3 months later my father forced me to move. He abused and raped me daily, so I ran away and entrusted myself to a family who offered to help me. Unfortunately they only wanted a maid, they made me work hard and I had no time for anything else. I was often mistreated, but fortunately one day I also managed to escape from there”.
Macrina, 13, also ran away from her village, convinced by her aunt, to live a better life in the city. After a long journey, tired and sleepy, she was given to a man who immediately gave her a lot of work. “When I arrived, I wanted to sleep, but my employer woke me up and told me to start work immediately, because I had many tasks. I have done very heavy work without ever having time to rest in almost three weeks. Fortunately, I was able to leave immediately and find refuge in the Bunju center that welcomed me”. Like her, Stella was also cheated by her aunt: “I had just finished the tailoring course and she promised me that she would let me study further if I followed her. I found myself doing housework for my brother and sister-in-law: I worked hard and got no pay. My sister-in-law treated me badly, and while she was with her friends or resting, I had to think about everything. I asked several times to go back to study, but the promises were never kept and I ran away”.
From Africa to Italy
Human trafficking is not only a phenomenon that affects the most vulnerable countries in the world. Actually from Africa to Italy, a Ventimigliarecruitment of victims and violence against women, girls and boys are sad realities for Western countries as well.Jacopo Colomba of WeWorld says that “in Ventimiglia, on the border with France, we find and meet many women who are subjected to strict control by human traffickers and potential victims of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and gender-based violence. The women are picked up by compatriots directly at the station and taken to places far from attention These places have become real spaces for the recruitment of victims – especially for young Nigerian and Ivorian women – who are deceived by the prospect of crossing the border.