What are examples of ways young adult girls from South Africa can protect themselves from falling victims to human trafficking while travelling on a gap year before starting university or college?  

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Human trafficking is such a relevant topic for our world. According to current estimates, there are around 20 to 40 million people living in modern slavery, and only about .04% of survivors of human trafficking are identified. 71% of enslaved people are women and girls, which makes your question incredibly pertinent to the concerns women must face in our world.

Though there are never any guarantees for safety, there are certainly ways to decrease the possibility that you might become a target of human trafficking. Here are some tips for you to consider in your planning.

  • Trust your intuition. If a situation feels unsafe or if you get a feeling that a person's intentions may not be in your best interests, leave. Don't worry about hurting others' feelings when you feel that you might be protecting yourself.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to determine if anyone is seemingly paying you more than a passing interest. Scan your surroundings to determine whether you are approaching a point of concern. Avoid using your phone when walking around so that you are more vigilant of what is happening around you.
  • Make sure you have a dependable source of communication (such as a smartphone) with you at all times.
  • Never journey out alone. Use a buddy system for even routine daily tasks. If you must journey out alone, consider using apps that constantly track your location and share that location with a nearby friend.
  • Be ready to defend yourself. Women have successfully escaped attackers by using their keys, solid or metal water bottles, pepper sprays, and the heels of their shoes.
  • Never agree to meet someone you don't know in a private place. Even if meeting in a public place, be sure to have someone nearby or on standby in case things don't go as planned.
  • Pay attention to how you are using social media. In some apps and/or phone settings, people can automatically see where photos are taken. So if you post a photo of yourself online, it becomes much more easy for people with ill intentions to locate you. This is particularly dangerous if you make it clear in your social media posts that you are travelling alone.

I hope you make some incredible memories during your gap year. Wishing you safety and happiness!

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