Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mozambique: International Adoption a Cover-up for Sex/Labor Traffickers

According to Lurdes Mabunda, head of the Department of Women and Children in the Ministry of the Interior in Mozambique, international adoption is being used by human traffickers as a false cover to legally smuggle children out of Mozambique for use in the slavery and sex trades. This is possible both because Mozambique has "weak adoption laws" and also because Mozambique has itself, per se, no laws against human trafficking, whether for sex, labor, or adoption.

Mozambique acts both as a source of women and children for sex/labor traffickers and also a transit stop for women and children that have been trafficked from across the African continent.

As far as Mozambique as a source of trafficked person, it is estimated that at least 1000 Mozambican women and children are trafficked to South Africa alone each year for sexual exploitation. Even more women and children fall victim to sexual and slavery each year within Mozambique itself.

Mozambique's children, especially those from rural areas, are easy prey for traffickers because many Mozambican families are extremely poor. With little in the way of opportunities for education and jobs, families are eager to provide a better life for their children. They are also far too trusting of those who appear to "help" them.

"They are easily deceived because of their poverty and they think their children will be given jobs and then take them out of poverty" said Nelly Simbine Chimedza, Counter Trafficking Programme Assistant of Mozambique's International Organization on Migration

Several cases involving the abuse and exploitation of adopted Mozambican children have come to light in the last few years including at least two cases in which Mozambican children who were adopted into the US were allegedly abused and then abandoned, and a case in which a Mozambican girl was adopted into Germany and then apparently, subsequently "disappeared."

Additionally Mozambican officials recently scuttled the international adoption of a Mozambican child by a Spanish based organization after "'suspicious behavior' was observed."

Mozambican officials are nervous about international adoption, which has been on the rise in Mozambique for the past several years, based both on these cases and the reports of its use by human traffickers.

"We do not have the capacity to monitor the welfare of Mozambican children who have been adopted by foreign nationals living outside of the country, and this is a cause for concern"

--Lurdes Mabunda, head of the Department of Women and Children in the Ministry of the Interior in Mozambique

Human traffickers thrive in Mozambique, Citizen.co.za, 03/27/07

,Trafficking thriving in Moz, Sunday Times, 03/28/07


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