Mary Nnah and Ayodeji Ake write that educating and empowering young Nigerians will reduce the incidence of human trafficking for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery or commercial sexual exploitation
In tons and hundreds, humans worldwide are constantly being trafficked for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery or commercial sexual exploitation. Despite measures put on ground by the authorities of different nations, the status quo is yet to change.
But in a recent interactive session organised by a nongovernmental organisation, Beauty in Every Life (BIEL) held in Lagos, stakeholders posited that educating and empowering young Nigerians, who are often targeted as victims, will go a long way to reduce the incidence of human trafficking.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Nigeria has become one of the leading African countries in human trafficking with internal, cross-border and cross-country trafficking. Reports state that thousands of Nigerian women have been forced into labour and prostitution in other countries with a population of approximately 10,000 women in Italy.
As undignifying as the situation of trafficking of young Nigerian women and children is, it has also often led to deaths and exploitations during the journey. Recently, the bodies of 26 Nigerian women, who were said to have been victims of trafficking, l
MmdweMediterranean Sea and buried in Italy.
According to United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), half of the refugees and trafficked victims are women on their way to Europe, who suffered physical and emotional abuse, including sexual and financial exploitation, stripping them of their dignity and confidence.
Keeping Dignity Alive
Despite the innumerous challenges, women tend to be resilient and do whatever it takes to support themselves and their families. Given opportunities and support, these women can contribute to the cultural diversity, innovation and workforce of their respective nations. Nonetheless, the vision of amy society is one where everyone is empowered to live their best life, achieve their highest potential and with equal opportunities live in freedom and dignity and contribute to the society.
This is one ethos BIEL belives in. Through its Keep Dignity Alive Project, the organisation was set up to tackle human trafficking, criminality and hunger by educating and empowering Nigerian youths to come out of poverty and step into further education or self-employment.
At its inaugural interactive session organised by the company in Lagos, themed ‘Partnering with Communities to Prevent Human Trafficking in Nigeria’, Founder, BIEL Nigeria, Mrs. Ebere Akadiri, noted that the foundation is keen at partnering the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and other stakeholders in Nigeria to join in the battle against human trafficking in Nigeria.
“We are here to collaborate with the launch of Beauty in Every Life in Nigeria. We are here to partner organisations that are already fighting human trafficking especially NAPTIP. We have so far seen what they are doing and we are here to partner them to elevate their work internationally, globally and locally.
“As a way out, we have planned this awareness through communities. I encourage people to go back to their communities and speak with their families to tell them the dangers of trafficking because it’s not what we can do alone. We have materials and curriculum that have been developed so that people can learn to communicate with people that human trafficking is a dangerous adventure and it will help them desist from the journey they don’t understand.”
Speaking further, Akadiri emphasised on the need for skill acquisition, training and empowerment to ensure the youths are financially independent. She revealed plans of the foundation in training hundred girls.
She said: “My passion is about entrepreneurship. I believe if we develop these talents, people can become financially independent. We need to focus on human development. The dignity is lost when you kidnap people. We want to end this. What we are doing is to create a curriculum for entrepreneurship. We want to empower them. We don’t just want to train people to create awareness, even if it’s one person we train and help secure a loan to setup a business, or maybe we help them get a job.”
She said BEIL is assisting NAPTIP, by training their young girls as the foundation has already partnered an organisation in Port Harcourt, which has begun training activities at a fee.
“We are already training hundreds of them this month and the more we raise funds, the more we train. What I have done is that I have taken time to volunteer for an organisation where they have shelter for South African girls rescued from human traffickers, so we are also partnering them. We are trying to get a video to share to other girls of their experiences. It’s painful when these girls tell their stories. We can’t do so much but we will help to change mindset, educate and support them. So, we have to do our best,” she added.
Commending the foundation’s effort in partnering against human trafficking, Zonal Commander, Lagos Zonal Command NAPTIP, Mr. Daniel Atokolo, urged members of the public to partner NAPTIP to more foster campaign and awareness against human trafficking.
His said: “Preventive platform is what we need especially now and as we have always done, which is preventing people from being trafficking. Awareness, sanitation and partnering stakeholders like we are doing now, are the platforms we are using. The kind of disaster that is taking place in the gulf should show people that human trafficking is not a joke. Look at the deaths recorded in Sahara Desert. So, we want people to know that human trafficking is modern day slavery and they should be security conscious. Also note that most people are trafficked by those very close to them. Today, it’s not news that fathers traffic their daughters and vice versa, neighbours also traffic each other. So we preach the gospel of ‘Beware’.”
Speaking on sanitisation and effectiveness of the campaign of awareness, he said “Sanitisation is working, it’s the reason why many people are not trafficked. Town halls meeting, campaigns are really working. The awareness will extend if we partner stakeholders. People need to join us and become ambassadors. We go to schools, churches, mosques and other institutions to ensure we work together for tight security. We make them realise human trafficking is real and they should deviate from fake promises. As far as anti-human trafficking is concerned in Nigeria, NAPTIP is doing a lot. “