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High risk for light-skinned women and girls to be sold for sex trafficking

Photo: Gallo images

According to a report, healthy-looking and lighter-skinned women and girls are at a higher risk of being kidnapped and sold into the sex slave trade in Mozambique's northern Cabo Delgado province.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported yesterday that an armed group linked to the Islamic State, Al Sunnah wa Jama'ah (ASWJ), also known as Al-Shabab (or mashababos), had a ready market (ISIS).

At least 600 girls and women have been kidnapped since 2018. The most of them have never returned home.

HRW said in a statement that the women were sold for between $600 and $1600 (R9 498 - R25 328).

"Others were sold to foreign fighters for between 40000 and 120000 Meticais ($600 to $1800)," according to the statement.

HRW interviewed 37 people, including survivors and their families, via "remote" interviews. One woman described how she was forced to identify houses in Dica town's neighborhood where there were young girls. The kidnappers told her that older women with children and diseases were not of interest to them. Instead, they were looking for people between the ages of 12 and 17.

For security reasons, a 34-year-old former male abductee who asked to be anonymous said that he was tasked with selecting which girls would sleep with selected fighters upon their return from terrorist missions. Those who dared to resist were "punished with beatings and days without food."

According to Save the Children, 51 young girls were abducted by non-state actors in Cabo Delgado last year, based on officially recorded cases. On June 9, 2020, ten girls were abducted while drawing water from a nearby well, according to one of the cases cited by the organization. Seven girls were taken into captivity in June last year and watched as 11 people were beheaded, according to the organization.

Despite a frantic call from the African Union Commission's special envoy on women, peace, and security in April of this year for regional and international partners fighting rebel forces in Mozambique to help put an end to the abuse, no progress has been made.

The AU Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa prohibits rebel forces from abusing and kidnapping women and children (the Maputo Protocol of 2005).

While most attention has been focused on women and girls, boys are also victims of abuse and kidnapping. Al-Shabab was discovered to be training boys to fight government forces, in violation of the international ban on child soldiers.

Parents in Palma say they've seen their children return with guns in hand, raiding villages alongside older soldiers.

According to consistent media reports in Mozambique, young boys in fighting ranks act like adults and even choose "wives" among kidnapped girls.

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Source: News24

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ASWJ Al Sunnah wa Jama'ah Al-Shabab HRW Human Rights Watch


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