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By Joseph C. Osuigwe

Slavery was abolished more than 150 years ago, but there exist more people in modern day slavery now, than any other time in the human history. Human trafficking is the 2nd largest crime industry with a net worth of 32 billion dollars generated from the exploitation of over 27 million victims in the world.  Human trafficking has become a high-profit and relatively low-risk business with ample supply and growing demand.  A lot of people think that Human Trafficking is a foreign issue, but it can happen at our backyard.

All over the world there are daily reports of human trafficking; our women, girls and children are used as money generating machines. The future of so many young people has been punctured, their dream delayed, vision shattered, and potentials caged because of the triumph of this evil. According to 2016 Global Slavery Index, Nigeria has  875, 500 of human trafficking over time.  Over 800, 000 women, children and men are bought and sold across international borders every year and exploited for labour and commercial sex. According to UNICEF, 2 million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade; every two minutes a child is being prepared for sexual exploitation, and the average age of a trafficked victim is 12 – 14 years. 80% of the victims are young people, 50% are children and 70% are women and girls.

By definition, human trafficking means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. Other forms of exploitations include forced marriage, rituals, child soldier, baby selling/adoption, and begging.  It is important to note that human trafficking can occur without transportation/movement of the victim to another place. The traffickers take advantage of the vulnerability of the victims, or in some instances they create vulnerable conditions so that the victims do not have any other choice but to obey the traffickers.

IT AFFECTS VIRTUALLY EVERYONE AND SHOULD CONCERN ALL
According to US President, Barack Obama, “human trafficking ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime”. On a personal standpoint, every family has a direct or indirect victim of human trafficking. Its negative effect touches faith-based organizations, families, schools, etc. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, from the city or village, anyone can be at risk of human trafficking. Human trafficking remains a great threat to our economy, development, advancement, and human capital. It saps the very potential of our nation by frustrating the aspiration of our young people.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO COMBAT/PREVENT HUMAN TRAFFICKING?
First and foremost, it is expedient to start with a personal example. During my 2013 National Youth Service Scheme in Federal Capital Territory, the burden to be in the forefront of combating human trafficking became pressing and obvious to me. I had wanted to see a nation without human trafficking, a nation where everyone is not vulnerable to modern slavery, a nation where women are seen as human not as sex toys, and a nation with gender equality. Though I was responsible in helping to rehabilitate victims of sex trafficking and prostitution at women rehabilitation centre, but I was still not satisfied with that level of help. This propelled me to partner with National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and United Nations Office for Drug and Crimes (UNODC) to start an anti-human trafficking project known as Blue Red Campaign. Through this campaign, between September and November 2013, we reached out to more 5 communities and trained over 2000 vulnerable teenagers, and teachers on how to eradicate human trafficking and other related matters.  In 2014, we trained 1600 students in two schools on how to combat human trafficking, rape and violence against women.

Fortunately, the project has grown to a viable organization that has gathered momentum in the war against human trafficking, and raised more people to stand out against modern slavery. However, we realized that there are more works to be done against human trafficking and more people are needed to do it.  Consequently, we partnered with NAPTIP to establish The Academy for Prevention of Human Trafficking and other Related Matters (TAPHOM), which focuses on training, advocacy, research, counseling, ICT, referral and publication of human trafficking materials. The academy aimed at raising advocates to be in the forefront of combating and preventing human trafficking, rape, and violence against persons.

TALKAM:  Recognizing the need to give young people tools to report instantly any incidence and increase reportage in Nigeria, we are coming up with a mobile application, known as TALKAM, which can be used to report human trafficking, and other forms of human rights abuses.

Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing”. From the above example, it is worthy of note that anyone can do something at anyplace to fight human trafficking. You don’t have to carry arms and sticks to fight, but you have to carry out activities or join activities that are focused on combating and preventing human trafficking.  Below are some things you can do to aid the fight against human trafficking:
a.       Advocacy/seminar for village heads/community leaders, parents, schools, etc
b.      Social media advocacy: Use your social media (Facebook, twitter, YouTube, etc ) to educate people, and create awareness against human trafficking
c.       Educate yourself, family and friends about human trafficking
d.      Volunteer for organizations that are doing work on human trafficking
e.      Write articles, draw pictures, do film show, create dramas, create audio messages, etc to sensitize the public about human trafficking
f.        Support/sponsor organizations that are combating human trafficking.
g.       Support people who are vulnerable or at risk to human trafficking or victims of human trafficking.
h.      Pray for victims of human trafficking to gain freedom and justice
i.         Create employment, educational and empowerment opportunities for people who are victims of crises, or from poor families.
Etc.

It is everyone’s responsibility to combat human trafficking
In conclusion, Dr. Reuven Bulka remarked “If we don’t stand up for this and these atrocities continue to happen, we can’t justify ourselves, and we can’t explain to our kids how we were silent when this thing happened.”  It is in our hand to end human trafficking.

We can’t keep silent at this evil
We can’t close our eye to it.

We can’t pretend as if it doesn’t exist.

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