Who are the perpetrators of child trafficking?
Child trafficking perpetrators are usually people like you and me. The truth is that there is a huge level of unawareness regarding labour-trafficking; we therefore often perpetrate the act without knowing. You bring a child to the city with the promise of a better life, and instead of sending the child to school, you let the child labour endlessly for you at home. Some of us eventually send these children to school. Also, we employ the services of house-helps without knowing whether they are under-aged. You find out also that most of these children are willingly handed-over by their parents to their “aunties”, with all good intentions. But when they get to the city, they are disillusioned and helpless.
A similar thing happens with sex-trafficking. These children are brought to the city and taken to brothels where they are made to sleep with different men for money. Whether or not they like it ab-initio, they eventually succumb to that sort of life. Many of them become the young girls we find on our streets at night.
When we compare human trafficking within our society with what obtains abroad, we find that there is a slight difference. We willingly handover our children to be trafficked, but abroad, these children are kidnapped and taken right across the border, and then transported to other jurisdictions where they are used as sex slaves. Their parents search and search until they are unable to find their children. Like I said earlier, we give out our children because we feel we want better lives for them; indirectly giving them out to be trafficked. And as long as we continue receiving money from whoever we gave out the child to, we never bother to investigate the child’s welfare. That’s how our children become a part of the whole number of statistics of trafficked children.
What motivated the forthcoming summit on human trafficking?
FIDA is a non-profit making organisation concerned with enhancing and promoting the welfare of women and children with the realisation that the well being of women and children depends on the happiness of the home and strength of the society. So FIDA is actually organising the three-day summit with a view to proffering long-lasting resolutions to the prevalent human trafficking crisis within our shores. The theme is: Human Trafficking: Prevention, Intervention and Prosecution with special focus on Labour Trafficking(from the village to the city) and Sex Trafficking (from home to the brothel). This theme was actually inspired by the increase ininteraction at various levels. Illicit trade in human beings, involving mostly vulnerable women and children, continues to worsen and has become more endemic, alarming and devastating than ever, within and beyond our borders. It is trite knowledge that Nigeria is a centre for this nefarious activity, being a provider, receiver and transit point, with Lagos being the foremost exit point for trafficked victims, by air and by land. By its multi-dimensional nature, human trafficking encompasses gnawing issues of human rights and the rule of law, of law enforcement and crime control, of inequality and discrimination, of corruption, economic deprivation and migration. The summit will be coming up from September 12-14.
Who are expected at the summit?
Virtually all the stakeholders that have to do with human trafficking laws, enforcement, prevention will be on ground on the day-one of the summit. The list includes the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons-NAPTIP, Customs, Police, Immigration, Nigerian Bar Association, to mention but a few.
We will have with us a team of very erudite speakers in human trafficking and labour trafficking. We’ll also have victims and potential victims of human trafficking, and the victims will share with us their experiences. NGOs and CSOs involved in prevention, intervention and prosecution will also be involved.
The day one of the programme will feature lectures from keynote speakers such like the Governor of Lagos state, Hon. Abike Erewa-Dabiri, president of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), someone from the Nigerian Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and others. Day two will be a workshop on capacity building and film screening with a panel of speakers. We will also invite victims and potential victims of this menace, students, parents (especially those from Makoko village), employers of all kinds of labour, house helps etc. On the last day, we will carry out a health outreach with medical aid and legal clinic in Makoko as well as the variety night and closing banquet of the event at the Eko hotel and suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
On day two, we’ll have a working session with victims and potential victims, and on day three, we will have a legal counseling outreach at Makoko in Lagos. We’ll also include a medical outreach because of the subject matter. We’ve actually been working in Makoko in partnership with a young man who has put together a slum to school project. He has impacted a lot of lives, and has built up a relationship with a lot of children there. On theevening of that same day three, we will be having a banquet at the Eko Le Meridian to say thank you to individuals and organisation that have partnered with us. We’re hoping to have the First Lady of Lagos chair the event.
Can you talk more on the choice of place and people that will benefit from the summit?
The reason we chose Makoko community is because it is one of the worst villages in Lagos where all sorts of vices take place in and also because it is our host community. For example, we have our office in Yaba. Charity they say begins at home, so why not impact where we are before extending it to other places. The benefactors will be these mothers who know little or nothing about what relatives come to take their children for, who send their children on the street to hawk instead of being in school and these children to know what to do, who to turn to when they find themselves in situations of trafficking. It will also benefit students especially those in tertiary institution who sell their body for money and call it all sorts of fanciful names. It will be beneficiary for employers and employees in terms of working conditions and settlement process and this has to do with labour trafficking. Also concerned are working class parents who employ house-helps regardless of their age, welfare, health, academics amongst others. So you can say it is an all encompassing event on human trafficking in its entirety.
What are your expectations at the end of the event?
I expect to see every young child of school age in school. Every parent empowered. Every youth equipped with knowledge to fight against this modern day slavery and every Nigerian his/her brother’s keeper.
What gives you joy as a person?
Helping those in need and seeing justice being served especially when it has to do with women and children maybe because these are usually the most exploited in the society. Early this month, I was called by someone who told me about the female banker that was accused of killing a LASTMA official and was detained with her less than three-month-old baby. I was not in the country then but called some persons that could handle the case, pressure was put on the police force to carryout investigations and she was represented in court. Today, she is no longer pressed with murder case but a milder charge of breaking traffic rule. That gives me joy because that poor woman would have been sent to prison for something she did not commit. When justice prevails, it gives me joy.