Human trafficking remains one of the most despicable ills of the 21st century, to some few unscrupulous individuals it is a billion dollar industry, but the reality is that human trafficking is one of the most debilitating experiences anyone can go through, with far reaching negative effects.
Human trafficking is a reality in Rwanda and in the past decade the number of cases have been growing, with its actors getting bolder and more cunning by the day, devising new snares to harvest as many unsuspecting victims as possible.
Many young Rwandan girls have found themselves trapped in the middle of this vile practice, with no way to get out of it, some sold as sex slaves others sold for labour.
At the height of the increase in human trafficking cases in Rwanda, the government employed a number of measures to combat the vice, which range from enacting a law that harshly penalises perpetrators which was passed in 2018.
However as proven, these efforts are not enough to combat human trafficking. The masterminds of human trafficking work closely with a ring of enablers who they deploy to different countries, and Rwanda has proven to be a soft spot to set their traps.
In Rwanda they lure victims-most of who are between 18 and 30, by promising lucrative jobs overseas, preying on the poverty and vulnerability of many young people in the country.
So the entry point to combating human trafficking in Rwanda is accelerating efforts to bring people out of poverty, which has left many hopeless and vulnerable, hence jumping on onto anything that promises a better life elsewhere without any second thoughts.
Natural calamities like effects of climate change, wars as well as unemployment have increased these vulnerabilities and desperation, so creating jobs especially for the young population is a matter of urgency.
The coronavirus pandemic has the hallmarks of a phenomenon that will worsen household poverty and make people more prone to falling prey to the traps of human traffickers in Rwanda.
The country registered a drop in human trafficking cases in 2020, reducing by 37.7 percent according to the Rwanda Investigations Bureau.
The factors behind this drop in a year when the most vulnerable segment of the population became more distressed due to the pandemic disruptions, range from the fact that exit points were closed and those open were subject to tightened scrutiny.
But once borders open and the border/airport controls put their guards down, chances are high that human traffickers will pounce and subject vulnerable citizens to these inhuman experiences again.
Saudi Arabia has been reported to be the most frequent destination of Rwandan human trafficking victims at 38.55%, followed closely by Uganda at 37.35 percent and Kenya at 7.23 percent.