This CAMPIO Burns essay looks at burns related punishment and torture in human trafficking and it’s relation to drugs.

We’ve cited the burning and death of 44 year old Mishkaar Fakier from Hout Bay as an example of a pattern that exists across the world.

“Are South African traffickers/PIMPS studying Asian models of victimization”.

Burning in abuse or in crimes of passion is not new to South Africa – but it’s becoming a highlight in trafficking here – Asia and America have a long history in burns used as a means or torture and coercion.


The burning and death of 44 year old Mishkaar Fakier set communities ablaze.  There is not a single human being who deserves abuse at any level let alone through burns.

The Campio Burns Group extends our heartfelt condolences to the families involved in the tragedy.

Burns injuries are one of the most devastating traumas a person can sustain – physically, psychologically and emotionally.  Holistic healing can take many years and reintegrating a severely disfigured individual into society is often unlikely due to society’s open repulsion and rejection; even threats.

This means that the victim may live in survivor compounds;  in the shadows or wear a veil in public – as done many times by our celebrity, the late Thandi Klaasen,  a victim of burns.

It is mercy that allowed Ms Fakier to die because she may very well have wished it; depending on the severity and extent of the burns.

While to some this incident may be shocking, it is a daily occurrence in other countries across the world and fast becoming such in South Africa.
It’s important to know and understand these patterns so that we are better prepared when these crimes arise.

Many do not understand how burns fit into the human trafficking sphere – I’m going to attempt to illustrate exactly how it all works.  How drugs and prostitution are the easy gateway to trafficking.  When pimps meet clients with a high demand they start to kidnap children and women. It’s all about the right price – supply and demand and his “employees” may not always meet the demand.

This does not mean that all pimps become traffickers as well but certainly most are delving into both worlds where it’s harder to identify the difference.
Mishkaar Fakier according to reports was an addict. A dealer set her alight by pouring petrol over her – believing that she had taken his drugs.

This is, like many others in South Africa,  a horrendous crime against any human but a very common one and fast becoming one of the most preferred means by traffickers and abusers with intent to kill, maim or silence. Often used in “crimes of passion”.

If Mishkaar had survived, then her journey to recovery would have been a slow and tumultuous one; beyond excruciating; with lifelong 3rd degree scarring. Then possibly years upon years of skin grafting.  That she died bears evidence of the depth of her burns and injuries.  The duration of burning and her still having to walk to find help may very well have exacerbated her injuries.

In South Africa there are countless incidences of death and abuse through burns. Abuse being a factor.
When we think of human trafficking we think of brutality; beatings; devious sexual acts and injuries but seldom do we mention burns; yet it is fast becoming one of the most prevalent forms of coercion amongst pimps and traffickers.

In countless research and studies it is now evident that the link between being a pimp and a trafficker has narrowed to almost no difference.

Trafficking affects prostitutes.

Pimps recruit in very much the same way traffickers do and recruits take the bait in believing that to be paid for sex is better than having no food to eat. The invitation to a comfortable lifestyle in exchange for sex is an easy choice for women who live in abject poverty.  But once on board and when successfully active the pimp starts using violence in getting her to perform sexual acts for free and where she eventually stops earning – often drug dealers are the pimps – the pimp is the trafficker. That’s why brothels are breeding ground for trafficking – and it is the dealers or madames who own them “house” sex slaves and receive a demand for them.

The recent rescue report of 15 girls indicated that the trafficker was a drug dealer and a pimp who owned a brothel.
from her family’s comment one can almost surmise that Ms Fakier was being trafficked or pimped as a means to support her habit.

For burns, as in Mishkaar’s case it is organisations like CAMPIO that assist in the integration and recovery process of the survivor.  Partnering with specialists in various fields is a priority focus for burn survivor organisations.

I want to show you India and how much of what happens there is fast becoming our worst nightmare. Burns in abuse is not new to Africa neither new for traffickers/pimps or dealers to do.

Could India be the yardstick and model

 – acid burns and flame are trademarks of coercion by traffickers in Asia and moving rapidly to Africa –

Burns organisations are hardly considered in trafficking yet had Mishkaar Fakier survived, a burns organisation would be assisting post surgical / medical procedures.

There are hundreds of recorded incidences of burns injuries caused by pimps/traffickers in South Africa.

I’ve placed commentary below which are excerpts of a paper submitted by the Yale Journal of biology and medicine.  All acts described below is essentially the torture victims of trafficking live with.
From accounts I’ve read I see that of those rescued the acts committed against victims in Africa/South Africa are starting to emulate that in India, especially burns.

We must watch that what happened to Mishkaar Fakier does not become a pattern –

****Beulah Kleinveldt


*****Sex trafficking remains a flagrant violation of human rights, creating many public health concerns. During the initiation period, these victims experience acts of violence including gang rapes, subjecting them to traumatic injuries that include burns.

Evidence suggests that sex trafficking is especially high in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh where diverse types of burning are also prevalent especially among young females.
Burns represent a significant cause of morbidity and mortality globally,
particularly among the destitute of India [6,7]. The etiologies of burns among sex-trafficked victims stem from violence, overcrowding, and dilapidated conditions.

Ganesamoni et al. evaluated 222 consecutive patients, albeit occupational history was not documented, admitted for in-hospital treatment of burn injury in India, finding 52.5 percent of the patients had suffered accidental burns and 43.9 percent of the patients had suffered intentional burns [8].

Aside from gang raping and physical beatings, pimps and traffickers burn sex-trafficked victims with flames, cigarettes, and acid [3,4]. These oppressive conditions often coerce sex-trafficked victims into attempting suicide by lighting themselves on fire, but then they terminate the attempt only to suffer large, total body surface area full-thickness (involving the epidermis and dermis) burns to the face and torso [9]. While there remains a paucity of details between burns and sex-trafficked victims [10], the senior author has evaluated hundreds of these victims corroborating the aforementioned.

The surgical burden of disease among sex-trafficked victims India continues to increase, largely due to violence and unmet health care needs. Partnerships between nonprofits  can realize synergistic relationships to reduce the burn injuries among sex-trafficked victims.  Many patients in developing nations, such as India, do not receive optimal care at the time of initial burn injury and, therefore, experience significant functional impairment –

Yale journal of biology and medicine –  2014 Sep; 87(3): 263–267. **(see images)
Published online 2014 Sep 3.  –  PMCID: PMC4144281
Pubmed – US national library of medicine / national institutes of health
News 24 – Mishkaar Fakier
The herald (South) 2015 – task team tracks down drug dealers

Images featured by YJBM

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