Why Community Leaders Must Unite Against Human Trafficking

As government at both local and international levels continue to engage stakeholders in the battle against human trafficking across the globe, the Women Consortium of Nigeria, (WOCON) with support from EqualityNow and NoVo Foundation has charged community leaders and other stakeholders to throw their weight behind the drive to stop all forms of human trafficking by engaging youths as agents of change. This recently came to the fore as WOCON took its sensitization campaign to the one of the most popular slums in Lagos: Makoko.

According to the Director of Programs, Mrs. Morenike Omaiboje, the essence of the campaign / sensitization was to create awareness on what is going on in the society especially as it relates to issues of trafficking and also engage community leaders, parents, religious groups as well as vulnerable youths in the fight against all forms of trafficking in persons, even as we inspire them to be agents of change.

Tagged Campaign Against Sex Trafficking (C. A. S. T 2018)

The program had in attendance traditional rulers such as the Baale of Makoko, the DPO of Makoko community, representative of the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) as well as those from the Christian community.

The first presentation, which was facilitated by the Director of Finance at WOCON, Mr. Olukunle Adeogun focused on How to Raise Youths as Agent of Change.  Adeogun argued that although “We cannot always build the future for our youth, we can build our youth for the future”.

In doing this, he harped that education is key and stressed that it is the duty of parents to educate their children.

According to him, Statistic of the world today says “200million youths live on less than one dollar a day” and while 130million youth are illiterates. Unfortunately, 6million of these are Nigerian youth.”

Furthermore, Adeogun stressed that “An illiterate youth is a liability to the society, hence the need for them to be empowered. Our youths are leaders of tomorrow so they are not expected to be stagnant because ‘An idle man is the devils workshop’ “.

 

He also stressed the need for our youths to have what is called “Second Skill”,  which he described as entrepreneurial skills and proffered that “one way to attain this is by the implementation of community-based project and social services, which is created to figure out what is lacking in the community and to work on making it available.” This, he assured will make a big difference in the lives of our youth.

 

Describing who a change agent is, Adeogun said “A change agent is one who helps others transform themselves by focusing on them until they become better persons and more effective persons in the community. A change agent will not only change himself but also change the environment, a change agent is not self centered.”

He added that characteristics of a change agent

1)  You must have a clear vision

2)  You must be patient and persistent

Adeogun therefore called for collaboration between government, community leaders, parents and Non-governmental organizations in the task to change our youths and help them lead purposeful and productive lives.

The second presentation was made by one of the Directors of WOCON, Mrs. Morenike Omaiboje. Speaking on the topic Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking, she tried to unravel the myths behind the methods of recruitment, coercion or kidnap for the sexual slavery and abuse as well as who can be vulnerable and what to do when help is needed.

Omaiboje described Human trafficking as “an illegal trade in human being for different form of labour e.g prostitution, begging, organ harvesting (heart, kidney, lungs)” and noted further that “Sex trafficking involves recruitment of young girls mostly for the aim of sexual pleasure for another individual. Thus rape is a form of sexual exploitation and those young girls that are moved from one country to another, transferred from one place to another and harboured for the purpose of sex slavery as victims of sex trafficking. .

Corroborating this, a representative of NAPTIP (National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons) pointed out that “it is a crime to employ a child under 12years as a domestic worker, it is also a crime to employ a child below 18years to do a job as that is exploitation; it is a crime to buy human organ parts and lastly it is a crime to promote foreign travels that promote prostitution, adding that all these attracts 7years imprisonment and above”.

While stressing that people vulnerable to trafficking include young women, girls, boys and children, she noted that likely victims are those whose travelling document have been taken from them, those that have been pressured to lie at the embassy, those that are being forced to take an oath and those that have no idea of the type of job you are traveling to do.

Lastly, Omaiboje urged everyone to unite in the fight against trafficking in persons.

“Don’t join them to do this business of trafficking. Spread the news to the public. Train and educate your children to the level of your ability.

Be vigilant and report cases that are suspicious to NAPTIP and Stop stigmatization”, she reiterated.

During the interactive session, the traditional ruler of the community highlighted some of the pressing needs at Makoko, which includes a community hall, a secondary school as well as a hospital.

A licensed nurse named Olarinwa Habibat also made an observation concerning rape activities in Nigeria, saying that what is fostering rape activities is the fact that people don’t want to come out and report it, most especially mothers. She noted that oftentimes, rape is committed by people close to the victim e.g. an uncle, a father, relative, neighbour etc. Thus there should be a way to orientate children so they don’t lose their values and also re-orientate victims and their families so they can speak out and get justice.

A lawyer also lamented that there are several manipulations of rape incidents, but because of the vulnerability of the victims, they may not have the financial capacity to fight back in the court, so they end up losing the case. He therefore urged the society to provide structures that could fight for the poor (vulnerable) when such cases arise so that justice can be done.

 

 

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