As I was eating my cereal this morning and watching the news (as you do) a story came on about South Africa. I’ve always been really interested in South Africa, and spent some time there this past summer, so even though I was running late for work by this point I sat and watched the report.
In rural communities of the, gorgeous, Eastern Cape girls as young as 14 are being sold against their will into marriage by their parents. The girls in the story had all been sold in exchange for either livestock or grain. The journalist visited a safe house set up for girls who had run away from their marriages, and they spoke of being beaten and raped by their husbands.
The elders of the communities call this a ‘tribal tradition’ and one village leader and his wife agreed that the arrangement had worked fine in their case.
This kind of tradition seems completely detached from my reality, and something I would never stand for; girls are being sold and are often being exploited by their husbands. But in the context of local tradition I’m not as quick to call this ‘human trafficking’. I always find it so hard to balance my two sides- the strong human rights activist and the believer in respecting local culture and tradition without imposing my own values. So I was just wondering what other people thought…are these forced marriages cases of human trafficking?