By Josephine Igbinovia
Barr. (Mrs.) Olufunmi Oluyede is the Chairperson for the Lagos State chapter of the International Federation of Women Lawyers-FIDA, an organisation committed to the well-being of women and children. As FIDA Lagos prepares for a proposed 3-day summit geared towards combating sex and labour trafficking, Barr.Oluyede speaks passionately about the scourge of human trafficking and also gives an insight on the summit which would be coming up in September.
The International Federation of Women Lawyers-FIDA is organising the 3-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 & Prosecution with special focus on Labour Trafficking(from the village to the city) & Sex Trafficking (from home to the brothel).
This theme was actually inspired by the increase in human trafficking, despite international and domestic interaction 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 et al.
Perpetrators of human trafficking
Our labour trafficking perpetrators are usually me and you. 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 however. 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 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.
Virtually all the stakeholders that have to do with human trafficking laws, enforcement, prevention, etc., 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’ll 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. We hope to have the Lagos State Attorney General, Hon. (Mrs) Abike Dabiri-Erewa, as well as other dignitaries with us.
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 the evening 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.’