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How little rural girls trapped by trafficking peddlers

How little rural girls trapped by trafficking peddlers

When Amina Athuman (not real name) was informed by her mother residing in Singida town that she will go to Dar es Salaam, specifically in the rapidly growing suburban Goba Ward located in Ubungo in the city, she was very happy and optimistic that the move will turn the life of her family to prosperity.

With an unwritten contract that she was going to be paid 60,000/- per month as a wage by her boss in Tanzania's commercial city, Amina worked for almost five months without being paid.

"When my mother was demanding me to send her a little money to sustain her needs, I, too, pushed my boss to pay me..." the recently turned 18-year-old girl said and added "but I ended up being burnt on my one arm with an electric  iron.
Since the girl arrived straight to the city, she was clueless about the area as she says "I was instructed that I shouldn't go outside of the gate or interact with any other people outside."
The ordinary level secondary school leaver claims she was forced to work for many hours and denied food, something prompted her to seek the local government office at Goba ward in Ubungo District, Dar es Salaam for assistance.
She was rescued by local officials who linked her with Daughters of Mary Immaculate (DMI), a not-for-profit, non-sectarian organization located at Kimara in Dar es Salaam, with the mission of addressing the developmental needs of the country, particularly Human Trafficking and Child Labour.

In Tanzania, DMI works closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs and local government authorities in their mission to rescue girls from exploitation and enroll them in the tailored programmes to make them realize their full potential. 

The girl is now taking a nine-month computer course.
Grace Mosses (not her real name) was born in Kasulu, Kigoma 14 years ago. She says she was promised by someone she declined to name to come into Dar es Salaam for domestic work with a monthly salary of 25,000/-.
The fourth child out of a family with seven children was not born with a scar in her right arm but now she has. "It happened when my boss forcibly took a knife and cut my arm. She rebuked me because I cooked a lot of vegetables."  
She claims that she was the first person to work up early in the morning and the last to get into bed. 
Grace decided to leave home for the Magufuli Bus terminal in Mbezi Mwisho. She met with a DMI officer who brought her to their centre, ready for counseling.
Since she had not attended any class, Grace didn't know how to read and write. But almost three months now, she has improved her level on how to read and write.
She is taking a hairdressing course at DMI centre.  
While Amina was convinced by her own parents to work in the city for nearly half a year without being paid, Furaha Yohana (not her real name) arrived in the City by her own relative with a promise to take computer studies at Amazon College.
Given her background, the 17-year-old girl who was living with her mom at Usagara in Tanga claimed that her father was supporting their family very well. "She even sent us [she and her brother] to mission schools," she said.
When she was in Form three at one of the Catholic Church owned schools in Tanga Region, her father disappeared from home in 2019 and until then he had not contacted his family.
"Ï did well in my form our exams...I passed with second division but I failed to collect both my living and academic certificates because my father didn't clear outstanding fees and other school contributions," she said and added:
"Since my mother had no sufficient income to sustain our family's needs, I didn't opt for Advance Level studies, instead I preferred colleges though I was not chosen to any," she said.
The 17-year-old girl was taken by her aunt to Dar es Salaam with a promise to study computer science at Amazon College in the city. "But when we arrived in the city, she didn't fulfill the promise. I was forced to work at her home and when I reminded her over the promise, she did not answer me," she said.
Forced to work as a barmaid
It was the first time for Furaha to live in Dar es Salaam hence she was clueless about various streets found in Tanzania's commercial city. Hence, she stayed at her relative's home though grievances continued.
She says her aunt denied her food but wasn't a case to her. "The issue was when she came to me and said [I have found a job for you]. When I asked her about the job, she replied to me that I was supposed to work as a barmaid," the 17-year-old girl said.
Visualizing a bar environment, gender-based violence and her age, she declined the offer.
Breaking the silence
"There was no future," the girl said and added: "I shared the problem with someone who finally linked me to DMI. I was counselled and since then, I have returned to normal."
Furaha is now taking a computer course and she aspires to become a social worker to help other girls who suffer from the same.  
Victims  at Magufuli Bus Terminal
According to DMI Country Director, Sr Fatima Jacintha most of victims of human trafficking are girls and majority are rescured at Magufuli Bus Terminal in Mbezi Mwisho, Ubungo, Dar es Salaam City.
Giving statistics gathered at the centre from January up to the end of September, this year, a total of 89 girls of which, 70 of them were abused sexually, were received at the Kimara based rehabilitation centre.
She says, in the period of nine months, the Centre managed to rescue  59 girls who were victims of human trafficking.
According to the centre's information, majority of girls fell into the traps of human trafficking peddlers were coming from Kigoma, Tanga, Ruvuma, Dodoma, Simiyu, Rukwa, Njombe and Iringa.
Other regions are Singida, Mwanza Dar es Salaam, Coast and Kilimanjaro.
Underlying factors
Asked about reasons behind the problem, Sr Jacintha says: "Poverty among the family and lack of awareness on how human trafficking peddlers work fuel the problem."
However, she suggests that sectors like agriculture, which employs the majority of rural dwellers to be improved as a move toward eradication of poverty.
"If life standards will be improved in the rural areas, it will be difficult for middlemen to trap these young girls with the promise of better life and better pay," she adds.
While DMI managed to rescue 59 trafficked girls in a year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) states that in Tanzania, trafficking occurs both within and across the country’s borders.

"Many cases involve children who are recruited under false promises of a good education, for example, and end up being exploited as domestic workers, in the sex industry, or in the fishing and mining sectors," IOM statements said.

IOM’s office in the country deals various issues relates to human trafficking is focused on building the capacity and raising the awareness of the Tanzanian Government, civil society organizations and the general public, as well as provide assistance to victims of trafficking.

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