'Illegal female miners pressured by police to do sexual favours to avoid arrest'

A report launched on Thursday reveals that female informal mineworkers suffer abuse and discrimination.
A report launched on Thursday reveals that female informal mineworkers suffer abuse and discrimination.
Image: Shaun Swingler

Police brutality, sexual abuse and intimidation are some of the challenges zama zamas, particularly women, face in the mining sector.

This is according to a report, “Regularising Informal Artisanal Mining in South Africa — An Evidence-Based Report 2019”, launched in Johannesburg on Thursday.

The research looked into challenges facing zama zamas - illegal miners - and the artisanal mining sector.

It also sought to find possible solutions for consideration in the strategic framework by the department of minerals and resources.

The report revealed that there was no gender equality in the sector.

The report found that female miners were discriminated against in terms of where they could work on the artisanal mining sites and the resources that they could exploit. The working relationships and arrangements on sites favoured men.

“Women suffer abuse from the police and are often pressured into sexual favours to avoid arrest,” the report noted.

Women were also exposed to health and safety risks.

“They are exploited by buyers during mineral sales. The other challenges related to difficulties in accessing land and mineral rights, and no support is provided to the female miners on access to mineral rights licences.”

Another concern was the stigmatisation of sex workers working on artisanal mining sites and the manner in which they were treated, the report said.


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