19 May, 2009

Zimbabwean girls in South Africa

Yahoo News ran a story about girls crossing the border to South Africa (SA) to try and find a better life.

So what's happening to these girls:

Some disappear as maids or "wives" into homes around this dusty mining town split by railroad tracks. On one side of the tracks are the crowded "locations" where blacks were forced to live under apartheid; on the other are the neighborhoods of broad roads and large houses still predominantly inhabited by whites.

Other girls hang back in the shadows at Musina's truck stops at night along with older prostitutes. There are fears traffickers are recruiting girls into the sex trade in Johannesburg, some 500 kilometers (300 miles) south, and other South African cities.(yahoo)

Not all the girls who travel to South Africa end up being pulled into forced labor or become prostituted. But I would image a far number do. In the U.S. a runaway is often picked-up in less than 24 hours (I think) and I would imagine that same rings true around the world.

I am increasingly more aware of the fact that most people get pulled into modern day slavery through the offer of work. "Do you want a job?" Is the traffickers favorite line. And for that reason, as the article points out, some of the girls don't think they can leave because the accepted the offer for a job. But, I would further argue that economic inopportunity is another form of cohesion or fraud.

Please read the article we spoke so much about Zimbabwe during the cholera outbreak last summer, and since then Mugabe has been alllowed to run unchecked. The international community is largely inactive in the face of this injustice.

Some things stay with you. A few weeks ago I saw a video of Eddie Izzard talking about genocide. And at some point he makes the point that if you kill millions of your own people it's no big deal, just stay within your own borders and no one will notice.

It's "funny" because it's true, and tragic at the same time. And somehow as I read more and more about our world it stays with me. Isn't that was humor is - a comedic reflection of the parts of our society that make us uncomfortable?