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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                          

Kingdom of Lesotho

As the number of mineworkers has declined steadily over the past several years, a small manufacturing base has developed based on farm products that support the milling, canning, leather, and jute industries, as well as a rapidly expanding apparel-assembly sector.

The economy is still primarily based on subsistence agriculture, especially livestock, although drought has decreased agricultural activity. The extreme inequality in the distribution of income remains a major drawback. Lesotho has signed an Interim Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility with the IMF.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Lesotho

Lesotho is a source country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Victims are trafficked internally and to South Africa for domestic work, farm labor, and commercial sexual exploitation. Women and girls are also brought to South Africa for forced marriages in remote villages. Nigerian traffickers acquire Basotho victims for involuntary servitude in households of Nigerian families living in London. Chinese organized crime units acquire victims while transiting Lesotho and traffic them to Johannesburg, where they “distribute” them locally or traffic them overseas. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Lesotho.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


The Protection Project - Lesotho [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING – Children from rural areas of the country who are escaping hardship and the effects of HIV/AIDS gravitate toward Maseru, where they are coerced or kidnapped by Afrikaans-speaking white South Africans. They are taken across the border in private cars to asparagus farms and border towns in eastern Free State. There they are held captive in private homes, where they suffer a particularly “sadistic and macabre” sort of exploitation. The children are often locked in the house and left alone during the day; at night they are violently raped and verbally and sexually assaulted by groups of white men.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Lesotho

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 14 June 2021]


Forced labor, including forced child labor, continued to occur in the sectors of domestic work and agricultural work. Victims of forced labor were either children or workers in the informal sector.


Government regulations on children working as herdboys regulate the work and distinguish between legal “child work” and illegal “child labor.” The guidelines apply to children younger than age 18 and strictly prohibit the engagement of children at a cattle post, the huts where herders stay when in remote mountain rangelands. In line with international conventions and standards, the law considers herding by children to be illegal child labor only if it deprives herdboys of the opportunity to attend school, obliges them to leave school prematurely, or requires them to combine school attendance with excessively long hours and difficult working conditions. The highest estimated percentage of working children was in herding.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Human trafficking remains an ongoing challenge for Lesotho. The US State Department’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report found Lesotho’s legal framework for prosecuting trafficking to be weak, without strong penalties to deter offenders. Other identified problems include a lack of criminal convictions for trafficking, a large backlog of trafficking cases, and a failure to investigate officials implicated in trafficking. However, the government has improved its capacity to identify and provide support to potential victims of trafficking. Child labor and forced labor for both men and women, however, remains a problem.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 18 April 2019]

[accessed 1 May 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 605]

Lesotho is a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. Children in Lesotho are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation and forced to work as domestic workers and animal herders, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. (6) Children sometimes voluntarily travel to neighboring countries such as South Africa for domestic work, and upon arrival are subsequently detained in prison-like conditions and sexually exploited. (6)

Currently, the government has published no data on the prevalence of child labor, including its worst forms. (5) In 2017, however, the Bureau of Statistics amended the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey and Labor Force Survey to include a child labor module. The statistics with the child labor module are scheduled for release in 2018. (5)

Of note, in 2017, the Lesotho Population-based HIV Impact Assessment reported that the HIV rate in adults (ages 15–59) is 25.6 percent, the second-highest HIV rate in adults worldwide. (5; 12) Many children in Lesotho become orphans due to the high rate of HIV among adults. (10; 7; 13; 14; 15) Children, mostly HIV orphans driven by poverty, migrate from rural to urban areas to engage in commercial sexual exploitation. (7; 16) Also, children with disabilities are vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor as they encounter difficulties accessing education due to ill-equipped educational facilities and untrained teachers. (17) UNICEF reported a 45 percent rate in birth registrations. NGOs confirmed that the low number of birth registrations results in children becoming stateless. (18; 19) These factors increase the vulnerability of children to the worst forms of child labor, such as human trafficking.

South Africa linked in the global human trafficking

Yazeed Kamaldien, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Johannesburg, March 8, 2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 September 2011]

She says that there have been reports children from neighboring Lesotho have been trafficked for labor by farmers in South Africa’s Free State province.  In 2003 a research study by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) also found that South Africa is a main destination for trafficked women and children.

Seduction, Sale & Slavery: Trafficking In Women & Children For Sexual Exploitation In Southern Africa [PDF]

Jonathan Martens, Maciej ‘Mac’ Pieczkowski & Bernadette van Vuuren-Smyth, International Organization for Migration IOM, Pretoria SA, May 2003

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 September 2011]

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - The major findings may be summarized as follows:

In Lesotho, children from rural areas gravitate to Maseru to escape domestic violence, and the effects of HIV/AIDS. As street children, they are coerced or forcibly abducted by white men before being taken across the border with the consent of border officials to border towns and asparagus farms in the Eastern Free State. There they are held captive in private houses where they are sexually and sadistically assaulted over several days by small groups of men. These children are finally returned to the border, or deposited on the streets of towns in the Eastern Free State to find their own way home. Street children in Maseru are also trafficked by long-distance truck drivers, who use them as sex slaves on their routes. These children travel as far as Cape Town, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.

Human Trafficking Stretches Across the Region

Moyiga Nduru, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Benoni SA, June 23, 2004

[accessed 18 February 2011]

[accessed 20 September 2016]

Women from rural China, many of them poorly-educated, are often brought to South Africa, said Martens. The women are flown to Johannesburg, and then taken to Swaziland, Lesotho or Mozambique. They then cross the border back into South Africa - all this in a bid to circumvent airport immigration controls.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 26 January 2001

[accessed 18 February 2011]

[55] Labor laws regulating child labor do exist in the State party, but the Committee notes with concern the high and increasing number of children, especially boys, employed as animal herders, inter alia, and children employed as street traders, porters and in textile and garment factories. The Committee is concerned, in addition, at the number of children working in potentially dangerous conditions and at the lack of monitoring and supervision of the conditions in which they work.

The Protection Project - Zambia [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

TRAFFICKING ROUTES – Zambia is a country of destination for street children from Lesotho’s capital, Maseru.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The law does not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons. During the year the minister of Gender and the assistant minister of Education publicly stated their concern about six cases of child trafficking and the possible increase of trafficking‑related activities. There were no official statistics available on the issue of trafficking. The police can charge persons suspected of trafficking under the Labor code, the CPA, and kidnapping statutes enshrined in the constitution. The Ministry of Home Affairs and the GCPU are responsible for monitoring trafficking.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 18 February 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Boys as young as 4 years are employed in hazardous conditions as livestock herders in the highlands, either for their family or through an arrangement where they are hired out by their parents.

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