- International Organisation of Migration (IOM) is set to carry out a research on the trafficking of men for labour exploitation, an area long overlooked.
Over the years, counter-trafficking research and interventions have largely focused on the trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation across the world. But there has been no research on the trafficking of men for labour exploitation, despite growing evidence of the practice in the world, including Africa.
The unavailability of research on the phenomenon made it difficult for relevant stakeholders to design or implement counter-trafficking interventions targeting men.
According to IOM, the new research that aims to comprehensively address the trafficking of men in Africa in general, particularly in Eastern and Southern Africa. It among others seeks to establish the extent to which human trafficking is occurring between the East and Horn of Africa to South Africa, obtain information on how men are trafficked, abused and the specific characteristics and vulnerabilities of source communities.
Bankrolled by the US State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, the study kicks off in January 2008 and will focus on significant male migration flows between the African regions. The project, which will culminate in September 2008 with the publication of a report also aims to update IOM data on human smuggling and trafficking between the East and Southern African regions.
Early reports from Kenyan and Tanzanian authorities believed that much of the trafficking of men might be irregular and facilitated by agents operating illicitly across several land borders, IOM reported.
A 2003 IOM report found links between the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation and the smuggling of men in Southern Africa, with both activities facilitated by the same criminal networks along common migration corridors. However, little is still known about male trafficking in Southern Africa, its extent of existence and the exploitative purposes for the menace.
It is against this background that the new research will cover key transit points along the routes that include Mozambique and Tanzania as well as destination and exploitation sites. Qualitative information identifying cases of male human trafficking will also be gathered.
IOM acknowledged the existence of some anecdotal evidence, especially in Ethiopia where it is increasingly aware of stories of men who are promised lucrative contracts in the construction industry in South Africa as the country prepares to host the 2010 World Cup.
Also IOM has identified individual cases in Tanzania where men have been trafficked from the country to South Africa and forced into criminal activity. And a 2006 report by The CRADLE-Children's Foundation on human trafficking in Kenya found that 43% of the trafficking victims it had interviewed were men.
South Africa has a lengthy history for being a destination for economic migrants and its Home Affairs Department estimated that more than seven million undocumented migrants in South Africa in 2006. Preparations for 2010 World Cup have contributed to an even greater migration pull into the country.
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