UK based Nigerian, Dr Olalekan Ogungbemi has revealed that inadequate funding for relevant agencies to enable them discharge their functions effectively was the bane in addressing the menace of human trafficking in Nigeria and Africa in general.
Ogungbemi, a renowned public health expert, spoke in an interview with the Newsmen on Saturday in Lafia, while giving an insight to his recently published book titled Samanta’s Story: “One Story, Many Victims”.
He identified some systemic factors that made the cycle of human trafficking very hard to stop to include: poverty, unemployment, bribery, social stigma, rejection from the family members
Ogungbemi, in his book title ” Samanta’s Story: One Story, Many Victims”, X – Ray the lead Character, a 17-year old Samanta Matama who hailed from southern part of Nigeria as a victim of human trafficking for prostitution.
The author said Matama was just one of the thousands of girls particularly from Africa and Asia who were being lured and herded across border, by both land and sea with unrealistic promises of better life, with the help of human smugglers for the purpose of making money as a sex worker.
” The book which has 12 chapters and 89 pages, tells the story of ignorance, regret, anguish, anger, neglect, disillusionment, superstition, shame, deceit, corruption, bribery, organised crime, institutional shortcomings and systemic failures that bred and still breeding human trafficking.
” Although, child trafficking happens in all other continents, it is in a high proportion in Africa particularly Nigeria, as it is being fueled by unemployment, insecurity, poverty, hunger and deprivation, making the victims more vulnerable.
” The traffickers, fondly called madam use deceit, financial gift, flamboyant lifestyle as a bait to hoodwink victims to believe that grass is really greener and rosy at the other side.
“And girls are imported by criminal gangs from poor countries in the northern and Western parts of the continent. They are exported and forced to pay from their daily earning to be able to pay off heavy debt placed on them by their madams,” he said.
He added that often times, these girls while working as house help were told to carry out sexual act against their wishes.
The author however pointed out that the victims were made to swear to an oath using their body parts- pubic hair and blood to keep them locked up in a cage of their own fear, ignorance and superstition believe so as not to escape.
” The book depicts human trafficking as a vicious cycle of cruelty and exploitation in which survival of trafficking, after years of forced prostitution have become traffickers themselves.
” The girl’s story is truly a one story – many victims as captured in the title by the author as she has a lofty dreams of better future to enable her assist her family after the death of her father.
” Unfortunately, it was not all rosy afterall as she was infected with HIV in the course of prostitution and eventually died,” he added.
Ogungbemi said that the book depicted corruption, systemic failure, lackadaisical attitude of police officer and immigration policies as reasons why human trafficking thrive in the society.
According to the authors, human trafficking business thrives in spite of the establishment of relevant organisations such as International Organisation for Migration (IOM), National Agency for the Prohibition of trafficking in Persons ( NAPTIP) and the National Human Right Commission (NHRC)
He, therefore, called on the need to stem the tide of this dehumanising business in the country.
He also advised the government to be proactive in the prevention rather than reactive by making such journeys as unattractive and also stopping illegal movement of girls from the shores of the country.
He further advised parents to be observant to recognise traffickers and their offers of job to their children that sound suspicious, saying that any parents who was found to aid the traffickers to take custody of their children with the intent for trafficking should be punished.