Zimbabwe’s Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira has cautioned young women and girls who receive employment offers in various countries to exercise due diligence before accepting such offers.
This follows a trafficking saga involving Zimbabwean women to Arab naitons like Kuwait by so-called employment agents in both countries, in which some of them were sexually abused and turned into slaves. Her ministry is currently investigating the issue of trafficking the Zimbabwean women and girls following the return of 32 of some of them from Kuwait. About 200 are still stuck in that country.
The women are part of the 200 that are in that country where they were seeking greener pastures. Although the ministry has not yet finished compiling the report on the recent returnees, Mupfumira urged women and girls to exercise extreme caution when seeking employment abroad.
Mupfumira said her ministry in conjunction with other organisations would continue to work with the repatriated women and girls to ensure that they are reintegrated into their communities in a respectful way.
Mupfumira’s ministry was handed over the 32 women and girls brought by a parliamentary delegation led by speaker of the house Jacob Mudenda who negotiated the repatriation from Kuwait following a parliamentary visit to that country.
Opposition party mdc-n parliamentarian Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, who was part of the delegation that helped repatriate the women from Kuwait, castigated government for failing to take up its responsibility of making sure that citizens are safe and in cases that they face difficulties on foreign land, are repatriated.
Seven agents who were part of the ring that helped recruit the women and girls were hauled before a Harare court a few weeks ago but are out of bail, a situation that is infuriating some women rights groups.
However, some rights groups in the country say this is not a time for playing blame games but instead a time to put heads together and come up with a comprehensive plan of addressing the root causes of human trafficking and providing physco-social support for those that have been repatriated.
African union goodwill ambassador on early child marriages, Nyaradzai Gumbondzvanda, also called on African governments including Zimbabwe to make the situations in their countries conducive so that women and girls are not forced by circumstances to take up employment in countries they are not familiar with and are likely to fall prey to human trafficking rings.
One of the young girls, who returned with the 32 from Kuwait and only wanted to be identified as Leah Marimira, says the treatment she faced in that country at the hands of her employer was inhumane. But she says she was not sexually abused and is now exploring ways of restarting her business of buying and selling.
Human trafficking is the illegal movement of people, typically for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.
According to the United States Department Of State trafficking in persons report for 2015, 55 percent of trafficked people worldwide are women and girls and 26 percent of trafficked persons are children.
Some Zimbabwean women and girls still remain in Kuwait and other countries where they are still victims of human trafficking but it remains to be seen what efforts government will be made to ensure their safety and safe return home.