Combating Human Trafficking in Zimbabwe: The role of NGOs in the fight against Human Trafficking in Zimbabwe.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Sociology & Social Policy


Zimbabwe is a source, transit and destination country for trafficking in persons yet the prevalence of different forms of human trafficking in the country are unknown and its conviction rates and victim identification pattern remain a cause for concern. Working in partnership with NGOs in Zimbabwe to analyse the secondary data they hold on human trafficking, the project will gain the much needed insight into this global development issue using a country specific case study.

At an international level, The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons 2000 (Palermo Protocol), which is the legal framework on which governments build their own domestic policy, prescribes the three Ps' of Prevention, Protection and Prosecution as the pillars of anti-trafficking; thus providing a one-size fits all approach to combating trafficking. Yet human trafficking is more complex than often imagined and its dynamics vary according to context, which calls for the need to undertake country specific case studies.

Our recent pilot study (conducted by the PI and the UK-based CI) involving secondary analysis of the human trafficking data held by three Zimbabwe-based NGOs (International Organisation for Migration [IOM], Musasa Project and AFCAST) has revealed gaps in policy and practice as well as in public understandings of human trafficking. The data analysed related to the recent case of human trafficking, involving about 200 Zimbabwean women who were rescued and repatriated from Kuwait between 2016 and 2017. The pilot revealed the misrepresentations of human trafficking as solely a case of transnational organised crime; merely a gendered issue; as well as the conflation of human trafficking with sexual exploitation. The findings further highlighted the gaps in domestic policy, showing that Zimbabwe's current Trafficking in Persons (TiP) law is inconsistent with international law as it defines trafficking in persons as a movement based crime and does not adequately define 'exploitation' which leaves many victims of trafficking without legal protection. In short, the pilot work revealed the invisibility of internal trafficking victims and increasing forms of trafficking(e.g. labour exploitation) involving children, men and women whose plight does not normally attract public, media and government attention.

To address this gap, we have secured the commitment of four NGOs whose anti-trafficking work spans internal and transnational trafficking. We will undertake secondary analysis of the data that these organisations hold in order to gain deeper insight into the human trafficking activity in Zimbabwe. The four organisations are: Love Justice-Zimbabwe, Childline-Zimbabwe, Kukosha and IOM. Love Justice-Zimbabwe has worked with approximately 700 diverse internal and transnational victims of trafficking since its establishment in 2015. It monitors trafficking hot-spots across the country including border posts as well as undertaking interception work. The work of Childline-Zimbabwe centres around child vulnerability and protection and the organisation operates 34 community-based drop-in centres across Zimbabwe as well as a 24 hour freephone helpline. Kukosha works with vulnerable children and their families. We will also engage with our existing partner, Musasa Project, an organisation that works with vulnerable women.

The project will explore four research questions:
RQ1: What do the data that NGOs hold show to be the scale, trends and prevalent forms of human trafficking, where and why?
RQ2: How are the different forms of human trafficking represented by age and gender?
RQ3: What, according to the various datasets, may be the opportunities and constraints that characterise NGOs' anti-trafficking work?
RQ4: How can NGO anti-trafficking activities be strengthened?

Findings will be disseminated to academics, policy makers and other key stakeholders through for example, conferences, workshops and website.

Planned Impact

The project will be the first academic study to map the human trafficking activity in Zimbabwe, through secondary analysis of NGO human trafficking data and will raise awareness of the trends, prevalent of different forms of human trafficking and the impact on gender and age.

The research will have direct relevance for the work of NGOs involved in anti-trafficking work, policy makers, human trafficking activists, religious groups that support victims and survivors of trafficking and the different survivor groups. This will be achieved through user involvement. We have managed to secure the support of four key NGOs involved in anti-trafficking efforts and whose human trafficking secondary data we will be analysing for the project. These organisations have contributed to our research ideas from the beginning and they will be engaged with up to the end of the project. We anticipate that the partnership will serve to strengthen our NGO partners' anti-trafficking work, which in some cases involve overseeing survivals' transition from vulnerability to freedom, including rehabilitation and participation in economic and human development activities, (e.g. movement into paid work, establishment of self-reliant projects and gaining access to further education).

We will also work with these partner organisations to reach out to other organisations that work in the field of human trafficking and these will be invited to our key stakeholder workshop in month 16 to allow for co-production work in order to build a more cohesive multi-agency partnership to strengthen NGO voice in anti-trafficking efforts. This process will also facilitate the development of a policy brief as well as the creation of a collective evidence base for dissemination at the end of project national anti-trafficking workshop to which government stakeholders, academics, survivor groups, religious groups and other interested stakeholders will be invited to participate.

We also have a wider public dissemination plan for activities that make public the significance of our research and we will use different channels to disseminate our research to users.

Policy Brief
We will produce a policy brief based on our research, which will summarise our research findings and make the academic work accessible for policy makers, NGOs, activists and religious groups as well as other stakeholders. Our strategy is to provide an evidence-based and more context specific understanding of human trafficking that enables the development of realistic and context-based strategies of combating trafficking and protecting victims and survivors. Our policy brief will provide such guidance to policy makers, NGOs and communities to tailor practical development work geared towards supporting victims and survivors, taking into consideration that diverse survivors groups will require different support mechanisms and approaches to successful re-integration into the society.

Project website
The project will host a website, which will be used to share information about the project to interested parties, and also as a knowledge hub. This will involve the uploading of working papers, publicised via social media in order to offer early insights into emerging findings and promote dialogue with academics working in related areas.

Dissemination workshop
We plan to end the project with a dissemination workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe. The workshop will be pitched as 'a national anti-human trafficking workshop' to which government stakeholders, academics, religious groups and other stakeholders will be invited to participate.

The project team will at all stages fully engage with key stakeholders involved in anti-trafficking work, and will disseminate the outcomes through stakeholder and academic networks in order to ensure the maximum possible impact for the research.


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