Global Issues

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South Africa

• Source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.

• The tradition of ukuthwala, the forced marriage of girls as young as 12 to adult men, still practiced in some remote villages.

•  Local criminal rings and street gangs organize child prostitution in a number of South Africa’s cities.

• Syndicates recruit and transport South African women to Europe and the Middle East.

• Nigerian syndicates dominate the commercial sex trade.

• South African trafficking victims discovered in Macau.

• Women and girls from Thailand, Cambodia, the Congo, India, Russia, Ukraine, China, Taiwan, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe subjected to prostitution. Some transported to Europe for forced prostitution.

• Suspected witchcraft sometimes resulted in assault, forced exile, and killings, particularly of elderly women.

•  33% of reported rapes of girls were perpetrated by a teacher.

• Studies suggest South African women who have experienced partner violence are more likely to contract HIV.

• 12.5% of women report intimate partner physical violence in their lifetime.

• 4.4% of women report intimate partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

• 3.7% report abuse during pregnancy.

• Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal but remained a serious and pervasive problem.

• According to the 2009-2010 South African Police Service annual report, there were 55,097 cases of rape and indecent assault during the year; many of the victims were elderly women.



• Faith-based organizations and charities provide care to trafficking victims in facilities that helped victims of domestic abuse, gender-based violence, rape, and sexual assault.


Sources: United Nations Development Fund for Women; UN Women Violence against Women Prevalence Data: Surveys by Country 2011; U.S. Department of State 2010 Human Rights Report, U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2011.