Recently, Sr Mary Balogun has been researching the impact of Trafficking in Malawi. Here she shares some of her discoveries and insights: Nkhata-Bay is situated beside Lake Malawi. It is a tourist area which attracts many foreigners. Tourists came from different parts of the world to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Some of these tourists while visiting engage in smoking “marijuana” (since it grows naturally around the place) and similarly engage in sexually activity.
Many girls both of age and under age from Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique are found in Nkhata-Bay for the purpose of commercial sex.
Initially, the female residents of Nkhata-Bay were not engaged in commercial sex but due to the influence of those who were trafficked from neighbouring countries, and the financial gain attributed to commercial sex, some of the Nkhata-Bay residents became involved in prostitution. A priest I spoke to told me that some of these trafficked girls come to the parish where he works seeking assistance for food and clothing because they were being molested and treated badly by the tourists and the traffickers. The priests did assist them with those basic needs. These trafficked girls were afraid to disclose their true identity to the priest for fear that he would report them to the police and the government authority.
For further information see the article ‘Trading in Souls’ in The Southern Times.
I had another interview with a religious sister working in the Dedza Diocese of Malawi. The sister works in collaboration with the Centre for Social Concern, A Faith Based Organisation run by the White Fathers in Lilongwe Archdiocese of Malawi. One of the aims of this organisation is to deal with the issue of Human Trafficking which is an urgent concern for the people of Malawi and its neighbouring counties. The sister goes on campaign/awareness creation campaigns at the Mangochi lake shore area of Dedza Diocese. The situation here is very pathetic as the” big madams” within this area built brothels and hotels near the lake shore and enticed primary school girls of standard six to eight with MK500 (the equivalent of US$2), inviting them for a for a meal at the lake shore. Arriving at the lake shore, the girls were lodged in the brothel rooms and the doors were shut after them with men inside ready for sexual exploitation. After a month, thirty girls from the primary schools around Nkhata-Bay were found to be pregnant to unknown men. Some of them were infected with HIV/AIDS. It was noted that the madams collect MK10, 000 equivalent of $40, for each of the girls
In our new mission in Konzalendo, the sisters recently gave a lecture on human trafficking, with the aim of creating awareness with the local people. Over 70 parishioners were in attendance. To my surprise, this was the first time most of them heard of human trafficking. However, they were very happy to listen to the lecture. We explained why it was important to be careful of accepting offers from abroad. We hope to have further awareness creation workshops in all the 12 parish outstations as well as in the surrounding villages and schools.
Sr. Mary Balogun RSC