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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                     

Republic of Zimbabwe

The government of Zimbabwe faces a wide variety of difficult economic problems as it struggles with an unsustainable fiscal deficit, an overvalued official exchange rate, hyperinflation, and bare store shelves. Its 1998-2002 involvement in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo drained hundreds of millions of dollars from the economy. The government's land reform program, characterized by chaos and violence, has badly damaged the commercial farming sector, the traditional source of exports and foreign exchange and the provider of 400,000 jobs, turning Zimbabwe into a net importer of food products.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Large scale migration of Zimbabweans to surrounding countries has increased – as they flee a progressively more desperate situation at home – and NGOs, international organizations, and governments in neighboring countries report that some of these Zimbabweans face human trafficking. Rural Zimbabwean men, women, and children are trafficked within the country to farms for agricultural labor and to cities for forced domestic labor and commercial sexual exploitation. NGOs believe internal trafficking increased during the year, largely due to the closure of schools, worsening political violence, and a faltering economy.   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009  Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Zimbabwe.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

International Organization for Migration
Counter-trafficking hotline:
0800 32 22222
Country code: 263



Reports of Rape and Torture Inside Zimbabwean Militia

[Category – Rape]

Michael Wines, The New York Times, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, December 28, 2003

[accessed 17 January 2011]

For Ms. Siyangapi's secret was not merely her own. Her appearance was also testimony to one of the least documented — and most brutal — practices of the military enforcers of Zimbabwe's authoritarian government, enforcers from whom she now has to hide. Ms. Siyangapi told listeners that month that she had been abducted from a Bulawayo street market in November 2001 and forcibly enrolled in the National Youth Service, a ragtag, government-run paramilitary group formed three years ago by the government to stifle growing political dissent among Zimbabwe's civilians.  Her duties, however, were not political: during her nine-month stay in a training camp and later at a paramilitary base, she said, she was raped almost nightly, sometimes several times a night, by some of the hundreds of young male conscripts there.  To the extent she had proof, she offered it to the crowd: a 6-month-old baby girl named Nocthula, or Peace.  "At night, they removed the globes from the light sockets," Ms. Siyangapi, 22, said in an interview at a hide-out in South Africa, to which she fled after escaping Bulawayo in July. "Sometimes there were 10 boys. They didn't leave until 3 a.m. If you cried, you were beaten."

Amnesty International documented cases of rape within the Youth Service in a report released in April. The Amani Trust, perhaps the most active human rights group currently in Zimbabwe, has estimated that as many as 1,000 women are being held in Youth Service camps as sexual servants. The trust, an affiliate of the International Council for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture, assists victims of political violence.

Tanya: It’s Better to Die of AIDS Than Hunger

[Category – Poverty]

Stanley Karombo, New Internationalist Magazine, Issue 377, April 1, 2005

[accessed 17 January 2011]

‘Soon after the death of my father I was evicted from the house where my parents lodged in Mbare.  I went to stay with my grandmother who lives in Mabvuku.  There were 10 of us children staying there and we had all been left by deceased relatives.  Life was difficult because, being an old woman, my grandmother had no means of sustaining herself and all of us at the same time.’


*** ARCHIVES ***

Lied to and abused, trafficked persons from Zimbabwe find some healing

[Category – Rape] [Category –Labor-adult]

Doreen Ajiambo, Global Sisters Report, Harare, 24 August 2020

[accessed 24 August 2020]

Jane's journey of pain began in 2016, when she was enticed by a trafficking agent in Harare with promises of a salary of $1,400 per month at a hotel in Kuwait, more than 3,000 miles away. Life had become unbearable in Zimbabwe after her husband lost his job as a casual laborer in a local milk factory and they were evicted from their house for nonpayment of rent.

"Life was very difficult and we barely had something to eat, and if we ate, it was one meal per day," she said.

It was at this difficult time that she met her trafficker, who was well acquainted with her mother. Everything was planned quickly, and within one week, all her travel documents were ready, including her passport. She was given a new Islamic name: Amina Ishmael.

Upon reaching Kuwait, she was picked up from the airport by a man who would be her boss. It was at his house that Jane realized she had been lied to and trafficked. Her host took away her travel documents and forcefully performed a medical procedure to check her overall health.

"I was raped every day, and I was helpless to do anything about it," she said, weeping throughout the interview with GSR but insisting she wanted to tell her story. "I was forced to work day and night, beaten, restricted to go anywhere, threatened of arrest and deportation and unlawful withholding of my passport. I wasn't even paid for the five months I worked at the home."

When things became intolerable, she fled the home and took refuge in the Zimbabwe consulate.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Zimbabwe

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 29 June 2021]


The laws against forced labor were neither effectively nor sufficiently enforced. Forced labor occurred in agriculture, mining, street vending, and domestic servitude. The full extent of the problem was unknown.


Working children often faced hazards to their health and safety and lacked necessary equipment and training. Working on farms exposed children to bad weather, dangerous chemicals, and the use of heavy machinery. Most children involved in mining worked for themselves, a family member, or someone in the community. Exposure to hazardous materials, particularly mercury, took place in the informal mining sector.

Some employers did not pay wages to child domestic workers, claiming they were assisting a child from a rural home by providing room and board. Some employers paid with goods instead of cash, while others paid the parents for a child’s work.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 10 May 2020]


Due to an ongoing economic crisis, many workers are not adequately compensated, and some have gone for months without pay. Inflation was estimated at about 300 percent as of late 2019, when the government attempted to introduce a new currency to ease a cash shortage, and it continued to rise through the end of the year. A 2019 assessment by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Global Rights Index categorized Zimbabwe as one of the worst countries to work in. A previous assessment said that just 15.5 percent of workers in 2017 had formal contracts, leaving the majority of workers vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

The government has continued efforts to combat human trafficking, though it remains a serious problem. Men, women, and children can be found engaged in forced labor in the agricultural sector, forced begging, and forced domestic work. Women and girls remain particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 22 April 2019]

[accessed 8 May 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 1055]

Zimbabwean children are trafficked to South Africa, Mozambique, and Zambia, where they become victims of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor in domestic work. Zimbabwean children, especially orphans, are sometimes lured by relatives with the promise of education or adoption, but instead are recruited to work within the country as domestic workers or forced to work in mining, drug smuggling, or other illegal activities. (5) The deterioration of Zimbabwe’s economy also contributes to an increase in child labor. (26; 27; 28) An NGO conducted research that revealed that girls under age 18 engaged in commercial sex due to push factors such as the breakdown of the family unit, poverty, and gender-based violence. (2; 29) In 2017, UNICEF reported that Zimbabwe experienced flooding that damaged schools in Tsholotsho, Hwange, Bubi, Masvingo, and Gokwe North, resulting in the displacement of hundreds of people, including children, from their homes. (30; 31) These push factors increase children’s vulnerability to child labor, including its worst forms. (9).

Human trafficking: A women’s issue

[Category – Progress needed]

Veritas, The Zimbabwean, Sept. 22, 2010

[accessed 17 January 2011]

[accessed 25 June 2017]

Women comprise at least 56 per cent of the world’s trafficking victims. The feminisation of poverty and the feminisation of migration mean that women from poorer and developing countries are particularly vulnerable and the proportion of women trafficked is higher in these countries. Human trafficking is modern day slavery. Its victims are men, women and children in search of better prospects in life. Lured with promises of better jobs or education, they often end up in prostitution or forced labour.   Public awareness seems sparse. The media does not seem to view it as a serious threat in Zimbabwe, hence it has received very little coverage

Combat Human Trafficking

[Category – Sale of Organs]

The Herald, Harare, 10 April 2007

[accessed 18 June 2013]

Markets for body parts in the southern Africa region seem to be on the upsurge as reports indicate that numbers of missing girl children and women are shooting up, particularly in neighbouring countries.  The human parts found in the plastic bag in Bindura are suspected breasts and private parts of a woman probably trafficked under the pretext of job promises.  Human body parts are believed to enhance profits in business and the belief seems to be widespread in this region.

Zimbabwe - A centre for Human Trafficking

[Category – Progress needed]

Saul Chaminuka, The Zimbabwean, Harare, Nov 23, 2006

[accessed 17 January 2011]

[accessed 3 March 2019]

The Zimbabwean government has rejected assertions by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that human trafficking is a growing phenomenon in the southern African country, despite the existence of enormous evidence on the ground.

United States Mulls Further Sanctions on Zimbabwe Over Human Trafficking

[Category – Progress needed]

Voice of America VOA News, Washington DC, 28 September 2006

[accessed 4 September 2012]

The U.S. administration said it might impose sanctions on Zimbabwe, already hit with so-called targeted sanctions aimed at the country's leadership, because the Harare government has failed to take action on human trafficking.

The White House said Zimbabwe made no progress during a 90-day grace period given a number of countries listed in June as deficient by the State Department. Other countries called “worst offenders” included North Korea, Iran, Sudan and Cuba.

Hunger forces Zim girls into forced marriages

[Category – Forced Marriage]

ZimOnline, Mutare, Zimbabwe, May 17 2006

[accessed 17 January 2011]

[accessed 19 January 2020]

Faced with starvation after six years of poor harvests, Zimbabweans are resorting to centuries-old traditions of "forced marriages", known in the local Shona language as "kuzvarira", for survival.

Nip Human Trafficking in the Bud

[Category – Poverty]

Hatred Zenenga, Editorial, The Herald (Harare), March 29, 2004

[accessed 17 January 2011]

Reports of organised human trafficking and smuggling gangs in Zimbabwe are disturbing and call for swift action to nip it in the bud before the problem gets deeply rooted.  Scores of foreigners, mostly Asians of Pakistan origin have been smuggled into the country, where they perceive huge opportunities to engage in illicit activities.  Immigration officials and the police have managed to bust trafficking rings involving nationals from Pakistan, Rwanda, Burundi and Somalia

But for the majority of the victims of human trafficking, promises of wealth and better life often turn out to be modern-day slavery.  Young men and women are lured by agents who cash in on the dreams of the poor to make it big in developed countries or African countries with opportunities like Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana.  In Europe, the majority of the victims are women, who come from eastern European countries such as Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, and Lithuania. However, increasing numbers are also coming from Africa, Zimbabwe included.

Section IV  Clinical and therapeutic responses [PDF]

Linda Richter, Andrew Dawes, Craig Higson-Smith, eds, "Sexual Abuse of Young Children in Southern Africa", 2004

Click [here] to access the article.  Its URL is not displayed because of its length

[accessed 3 March 2019]

[Sect IV, Ch 19] CASE STUDIES OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN ZIMBABWE (BY CLARE RUDD)INTRODUCTION - In this chapter, case studies concerning children who were seen at the clinics are presented.

Earning a Life: Working Children in Zimbabwe

[Category – Exploitation of Children]

Michael Bourdillon, 11/02/2003

[accessed 17 January 2011]

[accessed 3 March 2019]

The important question we need to address is not the fact that children work, but rather the conditions under which they work. Stopping children from working for their livelihood is likely to do them more harm than good. We need to prevent not the work of children, but the abuse of working children.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 7 June 1996

[accessed 17 January 2011]

[13] The Committee notes with concern the persistence of behavioral attitudes in the society as well as cultural and religious practices, which, as recognized by the State party, hamper the implementation of children's rights. Mention can be made in this regard of the difficulties in ensuring birth registration in remote areas of abandoned and refugee children, as well as of the situation of female victims of practices such as ngozi (girl child pledging), lobola (bride price) and early marriage, and of disabled children.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 17 January 2011]


Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 8 May 2020]


Due to the prevailing economic crisis, many workers are not adequately compensated, and some have gone for months without pay. A 2017 assessment by the International Trade Union Confederation Global Rights Index found that Zimbabwe was among the worst countries in the world to work in.

The Zimbabwean government has made significant progress in its efforts to combat human trafficking, which women and girls are particularly vulnerable to. In September 2017, Katswe Sisterhood, a reproductive health and rights advocacy group, released an exposé about underage girls engaged in commercial sex work, which prompted the Ministry of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare to place 54 girls in statutory care.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The traditional practice of offering a young girl in marriage as compensatory payment in interfamily disputes continued during the year. Arranged marriage of young girls also continued. The legal age for a civil marriage is 16 for girls and 18 for boys. Customary marriage, recognized under the Customary Marriages Act, does not provide for a minimum marriage age for either boys or girls; however, the SOA prohibits sexual relations with anyone younger than 16 years of age. Child welfare NGOs reported that they occasionally saw evidence of underage marriages, particularly in isolated religious communities or among HIV/AIDS orphans but lacked meaningful statistics on its prevalence. Musasa Project reported an increase in instances where families pledged girls in marriage and even unborn babies in exchange for economic protection. Such girls often "married" well before the age of 12.

There was little information on the extent of trafficking beyond anecdotal reports of girls exchanging sex for passage across the South African border, women lured to other countries with false job promises, immigration officials of neighboring countries sexually abusing children during deportation, children working as domestic or agricultural workers, and employers requiring sex from undocumented Zimbabwean workers in South Africa under threat of deportation. There also were anecdotal reports that victims were trafficked to border areas and into Botswana and South Africa. Likewise, there were anecdotal reports that victims were transited through the country to South Africa from Botswana, Ghana, and East Africa.

Anecdotal information suggested that citizens who emigrated to seek a better life were exploited while employed illegally in a neighboring country, when being deported, or after being lured to another country by false employment schemes. The groups at highest risk were HIV/AIDS orphans and displaced persons.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 17 January 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - The traditional practice of offering a young girl as payment to settle inter-family feuds continues to occur in Zimbabwe, as does early marriage of young girls.  Zimbabwe is considered a source and transit country for a small number of children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation.  Within Zimbabwe, a small number of children are reportedly trafficked internally to southern border towns for commercial sexual exploitation.

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