GENEVA, Switzerland, June 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM Chad has launched a major qualitative study on human trafficking in Chad, as part of a two-year US State Department-funded project: “Strengthening Chad’s Capacity to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Persons”.
The report concludes that trafficking in persons in Chad takes many forms, mostly affecting women and children. The trafficking problem is primarily internal but also international. Internal trafficking frequently involves parents entrusting children to relatives or intermediaries in return for promises of education, apprenticeship, goods, or money.
Selling or bartering children into involuntary domestic servitude or herding is used as a means of survival by families seeking to reduce the number of children to take care of. Child victims of trafficking are primarily subjected to forced labor as cattle herders, domestic servants, street vendors, or beggars.
Women and girls are primarily subjected to domestic work and sexual exploitation. Some girls are forced to marry against their will, only to be forced by their husbands to do exploitative domestic work. They are often also sexually abused. The report has also revealed Chad to be a country of origin, transit and destination when it comes to international trafficking.
The IOM project, which was completed in 2012, helped the government to assess the magnitude of the problem and trained law enforcement officers and service providers in the identification of victims and investigation techniques. It also raised awareness among the public.
Vulnerable populations are growing in Chad, increasing the risks of trafficking. They include people fleeing to Chad to escape the violence in the Central African Republic (CAR). The most vulnerable include female-headed households, single women, unaccompanied and separated children or children entrusted to unrelated third persons, pregnant and lactating women, elderly persons with medical conditions and under-aged married women.
Their vulnerability and lack of opportunity places them at risk of exploitation and mistreatment throughout their long journeys, particularly at transit sites. Women returning from Car or Car nationals are often perceived as “loose”. As a consequence, there are reports of Chadian men coming to transit sites looking for women either for prostitution, domestic labor or marriage.
Marriage is often seen as the best form of protection for young women and girls. These coping strategies are spreading across the major transit sites in the country and deserve increased attention and specialized response measures.
Unaccompanied and separated children travelling alone also risk being exploited and recruited by individuals claiming to be their parents or guardians, but actually wishing to take profit from their services through forced begging or other petty jobs.
Other potentially exploitative practices affecting children include working in order to survive at the transit sites. This includes collecting wood, washing clothes or selling eggs, or renting equipment from adults, including glasses and equipment to make and sell tea, and being coerced to pay an arbitrary fee every day. Other children are employed by adults in phone kiosks and other businesses under dubious conditions.
IOM Chad continues to monitor human trafficking issues and is currently seeking USD 244,000 from the international community to conduct counter trafficking activities in Chad and support the government and NGOs in the protection of vulnerable persons in transit sites.