Sex Slavery And Nigeria’s Global Image | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Sex Slavery And Nigeria’s Global Image

Penelope Association, Human Traffic
Posted: Oct 11, 2016 at 8:47 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The recent revelation by Penelope Association, a charity organisation, that about 1, 2000 Nigerian women who had reached Italy by sea in the past 2 years are now trapped as sex slaves in the country is quite distressing and calls for tougher anti- trafficking actions by government, stakeholders and indeed Nigerians. Thereport also revealed that 1, 700 unaccompanied children came in first eight months of 2016. According to International Organisation for Migration, another Italian based Organisation, it is estimated that 80 percent of all the Nigerian women who arrive Italy along the illegal routes are compelled to go into prostitution.  

Although the government had enacted a law on human trafficking, sex trafficking seems to thrive and go on with impunity.  Before departure, each girl is made to swear an oath of obedience in the presence of juju priests using her pubic hair, fingernails and blood as tokens for the ritual. Each girl is also made to swear never to report her situation or reveal the identity of her traffickers under any circumstance. Having gone through this, the girls are herded like cattle on a perilous journey across the Sahara using the old trans-Sahara route through Niger, Libya and over the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.

On reaching their destination, they are made to swear to refund transportation costs that could be as much as 25,000 to100, 000 Euros ($28,000-$112,000) to their traffickers. Since they entered the country illegally and are not empowered to secure well paying jobs, they are forced into prostitution. To crown the dilemma, they are threatened with violence to members of their families back home, should they default or renege.

Some of the Charity Organisations that support these girls in Italy claim that many of the traffickers were themselves former sex slaves that went through the same route but were lucky to have survived. It is therefore baffling that anyone could expose another human being to such torture as a source of income, especially with full knowledge of the consequences. It just goes to show the amoral and base nature of these traffickers. While poverty has been touted as being the primary cause of this despicable trade, most times lack of properly engaging jobs creates an attractive and conducive environment. We believe that many of the youths are quick to grab any means of livelihood, as survival strategy, because of the diminishing impact of the country’s social and cultural values. These youths are taken advantage of by greedy people pretending to be mentors.

We urge parents not to be too carried away by the ostentatious display of wealth, especially by individuals who claim to be business people living abroad but cannot explain their line of business. They should also warn their children to be quick to run away from them instead of wanting to emulate them.

Independent is of the view that genuine poverty alleviation programmes should be planned and judiciously implemented without politicisation by the government especially at the state and local levels. Government at every level should be more emphatic about ensuring quality, free Education in public schools so that students who pass through the portals of most of these schools will be favourably positioned to compete in the job market when opportunities arise.  The need for more job creation cannot be overemphasised as idleness can lead unwary and naive youngsters into the grips of such unscrupulous people like the traffickers.

 We commend the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) for all the effort put into trying to stop this heinous crime. Nevertheless, both  NAPTIP and National Orientation Agency (NOA) should undertake massive campaign to enlighten the people that there are no greener pasture to collect on the streets of the developed Nations.

Moreover, the country’s Film Makers need to heed the call of President Muhammadu Buhari to educate the youth and promote Nigeria’s culture by not making films that project violence and sexual vulgarity as glamorous. This will help to portray prostitution as the taboo that it is in the society and a shame that one’s livelihood comes from such means. That way it might be a bit more difficult to lure young girls on such a life threatening journey.

Beyond this, Nigerian borders should be effectively manned, to reduce the incidence of trafficking through the illegal routes.