South Africa: Using Modern Technology to Combat Modern Slavery

Digital Content

Not For Sale, a California-based non-profit-organization, wants to bring again public attention to the issue of human trafficking.

In partnership with Mxit, Africa's largest social networking service, it has created a platform for use on mobile phones. Basically, it works as a quiz and aims to gather data on three subjects: what people know about human trafficking, which trends of trafficking are taking place in various regions, and how to detect and support victims.

"An initiative such as this will not only provide valuable information for key stakeholders and decision makers, but also motivate community efforts to raise awareness of the problem, support law enforcement and possibly identify victims," declared Carol Allais, professor at the Department of Sociology at the University of South Africa.

When people log on to Mxit using their mobile phones, the Not For Sale logo appears along with an advertisement inviting to take the survey. If users click on it, the survey starts in a format of 11 "yes" or "no" questions.

Here are two examples: "In South Africa, are only young local females at risk for being trafficked?" or "A young boy from the Eastern Cape needs money to help his family buy food. An uncle tells him of a job in Cape Town where he can make enough money to send some home to his mother and sisters. He boards a taxi van with other young boys thinking he is going to Cape Town, but instead he is taken to a farm where he is forced to work long hours with no pay. If he tries to escape, he is beaten. Is this human trafficking?"

By offering free air-time and other credits to its 40 million users, Mxit - and so does Not for Sale - hopes to achieve 150,000 responses to the survey over a two months period.

By collecting data, Not for Sale hopes to better understand people's general perception of human trafficking, one of the world's fastest-growing criminal industries, generating more than $32 billion per year.

Not For Sale will also identify areas where it is needed to implement anti-trafficking initiatives.