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by Tabitha Lage from the Hope Risen Foundation.
Hope Risen (Hope for Women) started after founding member, Tabitha Lage, inadvertently encountered the phenomenon whilst working in an unrelated field. Her work took her into the townships surrounding Johannesburg, South Africa, where she formed relationships with people in the local communities. She began to hear stories about children who were being abused and taken away from their families and communities. Upon further questioning she discovered that they were being sold. Being unfamiliar with human trafficking, she started to research what she was hearing, and it became clear to her that the stories she was hearing were cases of human trafficking.
Once she discovered this she began seeking help and input from various organisations and the government, but at the time there was very little understanding of human trafficking in South Africa, much less any solid system for tackling it. When her efforts to find support and training in South Africa yielded few results, she travelled overseas to become trained and equipped.
Initially she ran small business enterprises as a front to help discretely identify and assist women who were being exploited. Over time as she taught more people about what was happening, the network expanded and the work grew to comprise direct interventions, restoration programmes and wide scale prevention and awareness initiatives.
Hope Risen has been one of the key players in establishing wider understanding and systems to address human trafficking in South Africa. Now there are several other organisations also addressing human trafficking in South Africa, and in 2015 the government passed its first law regarding human trafficking; a thorough and promising piece of legislation. Information and systems in the rest of Africa are still sparse, however, and so Hope Risen is looking to expand our work beyond South Africa and play a part in combating trafficking on the whole continent.