Western Cape, South Africa

+27 72 615 9417

Support during business hours

HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Risk Factors | Tershia de Klerk

Combatting human trafficking starts with knowing what human trafficking is, as well as what the different faces of trafficking are. Knowing how to identify the problem makes us more equipped and vigilant. I dealt with this in my previous articles, which can be read in earlier issues, or you can access them at 

I would like to take it a step further by providing you with some of the risk factors. These are the situations that put any person more at risk of becoming a trafficked victim.

  • Lack of personal safety
  • Isolation, including linguistic isolation
  • Emotional distress
  • Homelessness
  • Poverty
  • Family dysfunction
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental delay
  • Learned loyalty, especially with a person of influence
  • Culture or sense of family

The above risk factors are vulnerabilities, and human trafficking is the exploitation of people’s vulnerabilities. The above are serious cases and traffickers are not looking for targets who will make their “work” complicated or difficult. They look for easy targets – vulnerable targets.

According to the latest report from A21, the top five ways in which victims were tricked or coerced, were through:

  1. False job adverts
  2. Being sold by a family member
  3. The Loverboy method
  4. Sold by a friend
  5. Through abduction

The above methods of trafficking link in again with other forms of vulnerability, such as the need for an income or the hope for better employment; trust in a person you know (it is no longer just “stranger danger”. Most trafficked victims are exploited by either a family member or a friend); falling for someone, or starting a relationship with someone (without having the correct safety measures and safe people in place to look out for you). This, however, is a topic to unpack in a future article.

Another vulnerability that is often exploited is people’s dreams. This is especially evident with children and young adults. Besides false job offers, we also see that youngsters are lured through false modelling and false sports offers. It is, therefore, vital that parents and care givers ensure that they know and nurture their children’s hopes and dreams. Be there to listen and support them. Do not discourage them – they may find “encouragement” and false hope elsewhere, and eventually find themselves trafficked.

Please visit our social media pages and our website,, for more helpful information, articles and videos.

South Africa has a National human trafficking Hotline! This number is toll-free and available 24/7. You can contact this number anonymously, to in order to report suspected Human trafficking situation: 0800 222 777.

Thank you for reading. Stay informed, equipped and empowered. Keep safe.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *