English: Cyber dialogue summary for 7 December 2011, Xenophobia, human security and migration

Date: December 8, 2011
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Date: 7 December 2011

Theme: Xenophobia, human security and migration

Facilitator: Shuvai Nyoni (Gender Justice Manager Gender Links)









“At times I find myself extremely vexed and perplexed by the ingorance and belligerence of certain locals. Who helped them gain indepedence? Where were most of the politicians educated? Then they turn around and spit on those who helped them. But then again, what can we change if the goverment itself is xenophopic?À À“ South Africa

“I experience my Namibian community to be tolerant of other Africans because in my community many a foreigner resides alongside our nationals and also most business people are Zimbabweans. They are supported in their dealings and business without an ado. As for Botswana folks many are also more like brothers and sisters as they speak the same languages with our folks and are sharing the same or if not quite similar traditional and cultural values.À À“ Namibia

“When I think back to the Xenophobia attacks in Alexandra many South Africans thought that it would spread to all townships. In Soweto we didnt experience any attacks. Women in my community are safe.À À“ South Africa

“Indeed! Human trafficking is one of the forms of GBV as well as a cause for women’s insecurity.À – Kenya

“I don’t think people choose to be explotiated so we can’t claim people know what they are getting themselves into because then it wouldn’t be known as trafficking.À À“ Zimbabwe

“Unfortunately these two issues are in some way or the other economic – essentially xenophobia is driven by fighting for scarce resources and using the “other ” as a scapegoat. Trafficking is the commodification of a human being.À À“ South Africa

Question 1: What do you understand safety and security to mean?

  • One has access to primary the human neecssities, i.e. shelter; a place where one can dwell safely without a worry to exist and enjoy laws that protect them as a human being.
  • Having resources that are natural and sustainable for the human being.
  • The right to move freely and not being arrested.

Question 2: Have you experienced xenophobia, tell us about your experience?


  • There are different ways that xenaphobia is expressed.
  • In South Africa as a student, the police would come to our hostel in the middle of the night to harrass us.
  • Namibians are very xenophobic, it starts from the very top levels of society. I am a Zambian who has experienced alot of xenophobic attacks in Namibia.
  • Some xenphobic experiences are linked to rascism for example friends who were denied entry into a club in a small town (Braunschweig) in Germany. Zimbabwean nationals living as refugees in South Africa have also experience violence on the basis of their nationality.
  • Ignorance leads to and fuels xenophobia.


Question 3. Are people who are not from your community safe there? People who are strangers? Are women from other countries safe in your community?


  • We need to develop strategies to ensure that women are safe especially in conflict countries À“ the strategies in place that meant women in Soweto were safe during the xenophobic violence.
  • In Namibia there is an increase of Zimbabwean women informal traders. They sell door to door with no problems. They are recgonised by the state and given acess to Small to Medium Enterprise sector.
  • Migrant and refugee women are vulnerable to all forms of abuse in south africa. The most prevalent is abuse of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment of migrant and refugee women is rife in many communities.


Question 4: What are some of the reasons that people leave their own countries, cities or communities to move to others? Why do women leave their homes?


  • People are fighting for survival, they move in search of better opportunities. To tell migrants “leave our countryÀ is being arrogant.
  • Other reasons: corrupt leaders; women are in search of money (resources); economic and political instability; to be with family; fear of persecution and human rights violations; conflict; capitalism and its patriarchal nature and other various other social issues.
  • The impacts of climate change have been hardest in developing countries and the depletion of natural resources as well as conflict that has ensued as a result in other countries has forced migration on most groups within africa and other countries around the world.
  • The current situation in Libya is cause for concern. It shows that there will be need to accommodate different kinds of migrants instead of chasing them out of countries due to our arrogance and prejudice.


Question 5: How do you think human trafficking impacts on the security of people, especially women and young girls?


  • Human trafficking affects both genders, there should not be an over empahsis on women.
  • Men and boys are also victims of human trafiking. Heavier focus on women and girls has meant these two groups are falling through the cracks. Anecdotal evidence suggests that awareness campaigns have resulted in decline in girl children being forced into child labour and an increase in boy children being victims instead. There is also more pressure on boys to become bread winners at a younger age.
  • Human trafficking is a global problem and one that is a reality within our region.
  • Human trafficking also affects children
  • There is trafficking from Zimbabwe into South Africa – there is now an organisation working to regulate this.
  • Girls are lured into trafficking in search of a better life. Most reported stories are about women and young girls.
  • The booklet ‘Sharing best practices of the red light campaign against human trafficking’ was shared during a round table discussion at the University of Pretoria. Human Trafficking is real and not much has been done to overcome it because it is a complex and dangerous area of work. the Coalition Campaign adopted a softer approach – awareness raising and policy work – to ensure that through the SADC protocol on gender and development member states/governments should put in place laws, policies and legal frameworks to address the issue.
  • Human trafficking is dangerous and involves organised crime syndicates. We did not want the coalition to be in danger. This reduced the risk of the members of the coalition being victims to the organised crime groups and corruption.
  • Trafficking is a serious issue in Namibia. Children are stolen from Zambia and other countries close to the border and brought in to do cheap labor. Young girls are exploited sexually.
  • South Africa – trafficking is more pervasive internally than across borders.
  • Children and teens are the biggest targets. There is a need to make an impact on the youth. Teens can spread the word very fast and people will be aware of whats going on.
  • · There are situations where parents are the ones selling their kids in efforts to change the financial status of a family or thinking it will overcome poverty. Studies also indicate that parents, especially mothers/women are the worst perpetrators of human trafficking.


Question 6: Are you aware of any policies and plans in place to deal with human trafficking in your community or country?


  • Need for stronger and more stringent policies to ensure the protection of those vulnerable to trafficking and those affected by it at a regional level.
  • In south africa there is not actual legislation that directly speaks to trafficking but there is other legislation that has been used to persecute offenders such as the sexual offences act and the children’s act. The children’s act actually criminalises the trafficking of children. Counter trafficking bill in South Africa is still in Parliament, has been under consideration since 2007 with little hope of it being passed before 2012.
  • In SADC region still need for laws against human trafficking. They need to be user friendly tools in which our communites will be able to understand. The example of community radio programmes is an excellent one for disemination of messages in local languages by traditional and religious leaders.
  • Namibia has a policy discussed regarding the subject of Human Trafficking but it is not implemented.
  • There are several reasons governments have not put in place or implemented laws: lack of knowledge and technical expertise; political will; competing political priorites; corruption; disregard of the issues and denial that human trafficking happening in their countries.
  • Criminalisation of sex work enables the secrecy of human trafficking and not only that but makes the sex workers more vulnerable as they are forced to operate in the underbelly of society. Decriminalisation would make tracking cases easier for the authorities and at the very least it would award these women and men the protective rights that have been taken away from them through their criminal status.


Question 7: What actions should we be taking as ordinary citizens to address human traffikcing?


  • As activists we need a coordinated and well planned approach À“ we need to brainstorm what is possible.
  • People should be wary of migration deals that seem too good to be true À“ these are often used to lure people.
  • More discussion and deliberation especially at community level so that people are able to report suspicious activity.
  • Combination of awareness raising but also implementing viable economic alternatives for those who are vulnerable to being trafficked due to their socio-economic circumstances. People need alternatives.
  • Various socio-economic and cultural practices need to be addressed when focusing on prevention and awareness raising. Cultutral practices such as forced marriages and trafficking for muti purposes are doing more harm than good they surely need to be addressed.
  • Working with traditional leaders, the faith based communities and other role players. Also local government bodies À“ local authorities have direct access to commuinities.
  • The issue cannot be dealth with in isolation. There needs to be a coordinated interdepartmental/ holistic approach. Until the push and pull factors are addressed we can not begin to eliminate human trafficking.



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