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Monday 14 June 2010

ACHPR: Resolution on the Prevention of Women and Child Trafficking in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup Tournament

Link to the the resolution on the ACHPR website

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, meeting at its 47th Ordinary Session held in Banjul, The Gambia, from 12 to 26 May 2010

Recalling that the right of women and children to be protected from trafficking has been explicitly recognized in Section 4 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Section 29 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Section 6 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and Section 35 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child;

Recalling that the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime was adopted in 2000 and entered into force in 2003 to promote cooperation, as well as prevent and combat transnational organized crime more effectively, and that the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, was adopted in 2000 and entered into force in 2003 to address all aspects of trafficking in women and children specifically;

Recognizing that human trafficking is a global challenge that necessitates a global response and that the right to be protected from trafficking is also protected by other international and regional Conventions and Covenants which protect the rights to life, integrity and security of the person, and offer protection against slavery and forced labour;

Concerned that the 2010 World Cup in South Africa may increase the trafficking in women and children for sexual purposes and other forms of human rights abuses in South Africa and the neighboring countries;

Recalling that South Africa ratified the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children in 2004;

Welcoming the introduction of the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill before the South African Parliament to combat trafficking in persons by prosecuting those involved in trafficking, providing appropriate sentences and measures for the prevention of trafficking and assistance of its victims;

Noting that the South African law could be relied upon to prosecute trafficking in persons, including the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act of 2007, the Children’s Act of 2005, the Immigration Act of 2002, the Domestic Violence Act of 1998, the Prevention of Organized Crime Act of 1998, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1997, the Intimidation Act of 1982, and common law prohibitions against rape, kidnapping, indecent assault, abduction, murder, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, common assault, and extortion:

Urges the Parliament of South Africa to expedite the enactment of the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill and implement its provisions, in accordance with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children;

Urges the Government of South Africa to increase awareness among all levels of government of their obligations under the provisions under domestic and international law;

Calls on the Government of South Africa to put into place mechanisms and prevention strategies to address commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking of women and children;

Calls on the Government of South Africa to put into place and support initiatives aimed at assisting victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation;

Urges the Government of South Africa to intensify cross-border cooperation with the neighboring countries and to ensure an integrated and efficient approach to prosecute traffickers.

Done in Banjul, The Gambia, 26 May 2010.

Friday 5 March 2010

Dossier of Claims: South Africa

RESPECT! Over the past decade South Africa has ratified the main international and regional women’s rights protection instruments; and national statutory laws tend to respect the principle of equality between women and men. Yet, the continued application of discriminatory customary laws and persistent patriarchal traditions lead to widespread violations of women’s human rights. The Coalition of the Campaign remains particularly concerned about: discrimination within the family; violence against women, including trafficking; unequal access to property; discrimination in employment; and access to health services.


In addition to the ratification of all the main women’s rights protection instruments, the Coalition of the Campaign acknowledges several other developments in recent years concerning women’s rights:

  • The adoption of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment Act 2007 which modifies the definition of consent and the evidential requirements for proving rape (including abolition of the cautionary rule against complainants’ evidence and providing that no negative inference can be drawn from a delay in reporting rape).
  • The adoption of the Criminal Law (Sentencing) Amendment Act 2007, which establishes minimum sentences for rape. This amendment was intended in particular to prevent courts failing to impose minimum sentences on the basis of absence of physical injuries, the “cultural beliefs” of the perpetrator, or the behavior of the victims or her relationship to the perpetrator.
  • The adoption of National Instructions for Police on Sexual Offences, which sets out how police investigations should be conducted in such cases.
  • Concerning representation of women in parliament, following the 2009 parliamentary elections, 178 out of a total of 400 members of the lower house are women (44.5%). In the upper house, 16 of 54 members are women (29.6%). At ministerial level and deputy minister level respectively 42% and 39% are women.


South Africa has a hybrid legal system composed of statutory and customary law. Laws protecting women’s rights are ineffectively implemented, due to lack of training of law enforcement personnel, general lack of awareness of women’s human rights and generalised impunity for violations.

Discrimination in the family

Legally both civil and customary marriages are recognised. Religious marriages have been recognised by the courts and laws recognising such marriages are currently under consideration. Under customary law, polygamy is authorized (although it is rarely practised). Indeed, the current President, Jacob Zuma, whose role is to guarantee the application of the Constitution, which provides for equality between men and women, openly defends polygamy and married his fifth wife in 2010.

The Recognition of Customary Marriages act requires a court application if a spouse in an existing customary marriage wants to take on a new wife. However, the need to register customary marriages is not well-known and many women within customary marriages do not know about their rights as outlined in the new legislation.


Despite the adoption of specific legislation to protect women from domestic violence, including marital rape, (Domestic Violence Act 1998), such violence remains widespread. The implementation of the law is curtailed, due to deeply rooted social attitudes which condone violence against women, lack of resources, and inadequate training of doctors, police and court personnel. Efforts undertaken by the government, including the financing of shelters for victims and training for police, have so far proved inadequate.

South Africa has the highest recorded incidence of rape in the world. Over a nine month period, during 2007-2008, 36,190 complaints of rape were recorded by the police. Yet, the large majority of rapes committed go unreported. Reported cases are generally not effectively investigated and prosecuted, in part due to lack of training of law enforcement officials. According to a 2008 study, only 4.1% of reported cases result in convictions. The government abolished specialist sexual offences units in favour of a decentralized approach to the investigation of these cases. This has lead to deterioration in how rape cases are dealt with by the police. In 2009, the Minister of Police announced government’s intention to reverse this decision but this has not been implemented.

There are extensive reports of rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and assaults of girls at school by teachers, students, and other persons in the school community. Although the law requires schools to disclose sexual abuse to the authorities; administrators often conceal sexual violence or delay disciplinary action.

Violence against those accused of witchcraft occurs, especially amongst elderly women. There have been reports of women accused of witchcraft being driven from their villages in rural communities, assaulted, exiled, and in some cases, murdered.

The Children’s Act 2005 (signed into law in 2008) prohibits trafficking of children, and the new Sexual Offences Act of 2007 prohibits any trafficking for sexual purposes. The Prevention of Trafficking Bill is currently at parliamentary stage and aims to comply with government’s international obligations in relation to trafficking. The precise extent of trafficking operations in South Africa is unknown.

Obstacles to access to health

Poverty and HIV/AIDS remain the two key inter-linked drivers of maternal and infant mortality. South Africa has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS worldwide. In 2009, the Government announced that it would expand access to anti-retroviral treatment for women and children who are living with HIV/AIDS.


  • Harmonise statutory and customary laws in conformity with CEDAW and the Maputo Protocol and ensure that, where conflicts arise between statutory legal provisions and customary law, the statutory provisions prevail.
  • Strengthen measures to protect women from violence and support victims, including by ensuring effective prosecution and punishment of perpetrators; implementing training for all law enforcement personnel, in particular concerning implementation of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Acts and the related National Instructions; reinstating specialist sexual offences units; adopting a policy to increase the responsiveness of health services to domestic violence cases; and implementing awareness-raising programme informing the population of women’s rights and mechanisms of access to justice.
  • Take all necessary measures to increase women’s access to employment, including by addressing socio-economic and cultural factors and enforcing legislation on sexual harassment.
  • Adopt all necessary measures to reform or eliminate cultural practices and stereotypes that discriminate against women,including through awareness-raising programmes targeting women and men, traditional and community leaders and the media.
  • Implement all recommendations issued by the CEDAW Committee, in June 1998, and submit the long overdue combined 2nd and 3rd periodic report to the CEDAW Committee.


  • Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR)
  • First monitoring report of the Shukumisa Campaign, Sexual violence, calling the system to account, available at
  • Inter Parliamentary Union,
  • Wikigender,



Tuesday 19 May 2009

WLSA Zambia launch a campaign against women trafficking during the World Cup 2010 in South Africa

WLSA Zambia and its partners at national level will be launching the Red Light 2010 Campaign on Friday 22nd May, at Chipata Community Football Grounds in Chipata Compound, Lusaka (Zambia), from 8:30 to 12:30 hrs, to prevent migrations of girls and women across southern Africa to satisfy football supporters sexual appetite in South Africa.

Women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Educational Trust (WLSA) is an action- oriented research organization whose main objective is to improve the socio-legal, political and economic position of women and children in Zambia. WLSA together with partners is addressing the global concern on human trafficking and gender based violence, through the Red Light 2010 Campaign Initiative. The aim of the Campaign is to build a social movement that contributes to reducing the incidences of human trafficking and gender based violence in Southern Africa by ensuring that the 2010 world cup does not lead to increased vulnerabilities of women and children to trafficking, exploitation and abuse.

To further this end, WLSA will adopt various strategies and activities. One such strategy is a community public education and awareness campaign. In this campaign WLSA will organize and hold grass roots football matches combined with education on human rights, gender, migration, the law and human trafficking. The launch will adopt such a strategy.