Selling sex in Cape Town: Sex work and human trafficking in a South African city

This book examines the sex work industry in South Africa and the evidence for human trafficking into the industry. The research began in 2006, when the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) received funds from the Belgian Development Agency to research human trafficking in South and Southern Africa and to recommend policies arising from the research. A workshop held at the beginning of the project revealed that there was enormous concern amongst nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), inter-governmental organisations (IGOs) and government officials about the fact that South Africa seemed to be becoming both a source and a destination for trafficking victims.

However there was hardly any quantitative data on trafficking, so an objective assessment of the extent of the trade in human beings was not possible. The absence of hard data about the scale of the problem convinced the ISS that the gathering of the information required rigorous methods. Some research had been done in South Africa (by the International Organisation on Migration and the child rights organisation Molo Songololo) on trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation, but there was almost no information about trafficking for other purposes, such as labour exploitation. This presented a difficult choice – whether to build on existing information and use it as a springboard for a more detailed study, or whether to start afresh and investigate types of trafficking that had received no attention from Southern African researchers.


Chandre Gould in collaboration with Nicole Fick (Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce)

Funding provided by the Belgium Development Agency