MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE - Mozambique's Justice Minister Benvinda Levi on Thursday urged tougher action against the trafficking of women and children, many of whom are smuggled to South Africa and forced to work in the sex trade. Levi was addressing a special parliamentary hearing on human trafficking, an issue that has dominated headlines in the country over the past week following revelations that three girls were lured to South Africa in January and forced to work as sex slaves for two months.
Levi urged parliament to quickly pass draft legislation on human trafficking and protection of minors, including stiffer jail terms for convicted child traffickers.
The case of the three young trafficking victims from the capital Maputo has rocked Mozambique. Earlier this week a high-level delegation of crime-fighting officials travelled to South Africa to try to obtain the extradition of the main female suspect in the affair who faces charges of abduction, entrapment and document forgery in Mozambique.
The former Portuguese colony is one of the world's poorest countries.
In an interview with state TVM television last week the three girls, aged 16 to 20, said the woman, whom they met on the beach in Maputo, lured to Africa's biggest economy with the promise of getting them work as hairdressers.
Once there they were forced to work as sex slaves for nearly two months in a brothel in a leafy suburb of the administrative capital Pretoria, servicing up to 10 mostly older men a day, with no pay. One girl said she was beaten when she failed to perform...
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