Slavery in Botswana

Overview

 

Botswana is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Residents of Botswana most susceptible to trafficking are unemployed women, those living in rural poverty, agricultural workers, and children. Some parents in poor rural communities might send their children to work for wealthier families as domestic servants in cities or in agriculture and cattle farming in remote areas.

 

Young Batswana serving as domestic workers for extended family may be denied access to education and basic necessities or subjected to confinement or verbal, physical, or sexual abuse—conditions indicative of forced labour. Batswana girls and women are exploited in prostitution within the country, including in bars and along major highways by truck drivers. Experts in Botswana believe a significant minority of persons in prostitution are children.

 

Some women are subjected to trafficking internally or transported from neighbouring countries and subjected to sexual exploitation. One NGO reported members of the Botswana civil service, including police officers, soldiers, and teachers, were among the clients of children in prostitution.

 

NGOs report labour conditions on private farms and cattle posts in Botswana’s rural west might rise to the level of forced labour for both adults and children of the San ethnic minority group. Migrant children might be vulnerable to trafficking in Botswana.

 

Legislation

 

The Anti-Human Trafficking Act, No.32 of 2014. The Act substantially domesticates the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.

 

Testimony

 

A Motswana woman fell victim to traffickers in 2012. Fortunately, she escaped. She tells how she was coerced by a fellow church member's promise to provide her with a job as a family caregiver in Canada. Believing that the opportunity would lead to a better life for her and her children overseas, and trusting her fellow church member, she unwittingly surrendered her land title deed and children's birth certificates. She was instructed that the documents were needed to obtain passports for her children. It was only when she was already on the plane that her suspicions to possibly being in danger were raised. She was instructed that upon arrival in Toronto she was to deceive the Immigration Authorities that she was an asylum seeker. Upon arriving at Toronto's International Airport, following her gut and denied the claims in front of the Canadian authorities. She was sent to a safe house where she met more Batswana women and girls who were also alleged victims of trafficking. After the investigation into her case was complete, she was repatriated to Botswana.