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Prevention and protection against Online Child Exploitation        Series 1

 

Thelma Anwatu

April 14, 2018.

 

As we witness the ever-changing world, technology provides more tools but also presents new risks. Ever wondered the activities and behaviours of our young kids in the digitally advanced age? Ever imagined the increased vulnerability in the ever-evolving world?

With the above brought to light, new forms of abuse are emerging and with them the need for new and accurate information on how to create awareness on the dangers of child exploitation.

 

Crimes which are committed online transcend borders. Unfortunately, not much attention has been given to this form of exploitation in Nigeria.

Combating cyber crimes requires the cooperation of all.  To understand the real nature of the problem, let’s look into the following:

 

Child:   a young human being below the age of puberty or below the legal age of majority.

 

Age of consent: legally the age below which it is prohibited to engage in sexual activities with a child. (ECPAT) Although this varies from country to country hence no international treaty establishes the legal age for sexual activities. Many set the age of sexual consent at between 14 and 16 years of age and 18 years in Nigeria.

 

Child sexual abuse: is defined as engaging in sexual activities with a child who according to the relevant provisions of national law, has not reached the legal age of sexual activities with a child where: use is made of coercion, force or threats: or abuse is made of a recognized position of trust, authority or influence over the child, including within the family: or abuse is made of a particularly vulnerable situation of a child, notably because of mental or physical disability or a situation of dependence. Article 18(1) of the Council of Europe convention on the protection of children against sexual Exploitation and Sexual abuse (Lanzarote Convention)

 

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an international treaty that legally obligates nations to protect children's rights. Articles 34 and 35 of the CRC require states to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. This includes outlawing the coercion of a child to perform sexual activity, the prostitution of children, and the exploitation of children in creating pornography. Every state is also required to prevent the abduction, sale, or trafficking of children.

 

Child sexual exploitation (CSE): a type of sexual abuse when a child is a victim of sexual exploitation when he/she takes part in a sexual activity in exchange for something (gain, benefit or even promise of such) from a third party, the perpetrator, or by the child her/himself. Therefore, what distinguishes the concept of child exploitation from other forms of child abuse is the underlying notion of exchange.

 

It is important to make distinctions as to child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation. Child sexual abuse may involve some kind of benefits to the child or exchange often to win trust or ensure silence usually non-tangible benefits, for instance, attention or affection.

 

Exploitation is applicable to all victims of abuse in the sense of exploiting the vulnerability of a child.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2018: PRESS FOR PROGRESS

Although it is believed that gender parity is still about 200 years away from being a reality, it is important to note that women, especially as a marginalized group, can #pressforprogress by challenging stereotypes and bias, forging positive visibility of women, influencing others' positive beliefs, maintaining a gender parity mindset and celebrating women’s achievements.

In Nigeria, gender parity is almost appearing to be non-achievable except for the strives and efforts of some State and non-State actors.

Women Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON) being a women-focused organization since inception has been working towards making equality a reality by ensuring economic, social and political empowerment of women through the elimination of harmful traditional practices and violence against women, boosting women’s health including reproductive health rights and ensuring women have equal access to basic education and equal representation in positions of power and authority.

A persistent challenge of many countries in their pursuit of democracy is how to strengthen systems and promote the participation of minorities especially women. The participation of women in Nigerian politics is regretfully low and WOCON has been active in this strive because of the belief that the legitimate issues and concerns of women would not have been short-changed by bureaucratic and regulatory processes if women are adequately represented in decision-making processes. To tackle this setback, WOCON has been active in the political and civic education of women, grooming of women politicians as well as pushing for the establishment of some women-friendly laws and policies.

WOCON with the help of West African Networks has also been providing counselling, support as well as reintegration of women victims of sexual exploitation and domestic servitude through irregular migration and trafficking. Rural women are also not left behind as WOCON in 2017 discovered a widows’ cluster community in Ogun State and held activities to commemorate the International Rural Women’s Day in that community.

In 2013, WOCON with support from International Labour Organization (ILO) conducted a Need Assessment for over 100 women who have children that are out of school and empowered them with capital equipment to assist them become self-sufficient and also re-enrolled their children in schools with the support of the Ministry of Education and other relevant Stakeholders and International Partners.

Due to the fact that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is still a cause for concern in this part of the world, WOCON with support from the Ogun State Ministry of Women Affairs has taken upon itself to educate, train and continually inform women especially rural women on the health and psychological dangers posed by FGM. With the continuous practice of FGM being a violation of the FGM prohibition law, WOCON assisted in simplifying the law in easy-to-understand languages for better understanding. This and many other harmful traditional practices are forces that have militated against women’s progress over the years. In 2018 WOCON intervened in an attempted FGM practice and was able to curb the act.

In the quest to #pressforprogressthe social, economic, political and cultural achievements of women should be celebrated and sustained and more women should be motivated and empowered as change catalysts towards achieving gender equality and peace.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY TO ALL NIGERIAN WOMEN OF COURAGE!

 

PRESS STATEMENT RELEASED BY WOMEN’S CONSORTIUM OF NIGERIA (WOCON)

TO CONDEMN THE RECENT HAPPENINGS OF MODERN SLAVERY AND INHUMAN TREATMENT OF NIGERIAN WOMEN & GIRLS IN LIBYA

AND TO COMMEMORATE

THE 16DAYS OF ACTIVISM AGAINST GENDER VIOLENCE (2017)

 

Human trafficking and smuggling of migrants have attracted international attention in recent times and according to the UN report, 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, victims of trafficking are found in 106 of 193 countries with the main victims being women.

With the recent sad news of the 26 young and agile Nigerian girls who perished in the Mediterranean in search of greener pastures, coupled with the disheartening news of a thriving salve markets springing up across Libya, needless to say, the reality of this global criminal activity of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants especially its impact on the socio-economic lives of Africans and indeed Nigerians as a whole.

 

Mostly from poor socio-economic situations and rural communities, Nigerian women and girls constitute the largest single source of trafficked victims for prostitution to Europe and continue to be deceived, lured or enticed with promises of job opportunities, education, better life and various other forms of deceit. These young women and girls are continuously transported from the rural areas to urban centres and from Nigeria to other parts of Europe especially Italy, Spain, Dubai, France, Belgium, Sweden, etc. under harsh conditions which negate all principles of labour relations. Apart from facing economic exploitation, they also suffer indignity, psychological trauma and various health hazards. Recent investigations reveal that West Africans (with Nigerians topping the list) and others are being sold as slaves and according to CNN, slave sales are now conducted on the outskirts of the nation’s capital in Tripoli where auctions are held for different forms of manual labourers, etc.

 

Every year thousands of Nigerians along with other nationals pour across Libya’s borders as economic migrants in search of better opportunities in Europe and the increase in the number of these migrants is alarmingly growing by the day with its root consistently traced to unemployment and the belief that migrating to Europe is the answer to all economic challenges.

The influx of illegal migrants are also regularly attributed to the unstable economy, lack of exposure, illiteracy, loss of dignity in families, misconception about living abroad, the high value of the foreign currency, poverty and abuse of the traditional fostering system; these have all contributed to making women and girls more vulnerable.

 

Women’s Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON), a non for profit, non-governmental organization whose main beneficiaries are women/girls and children has worked and is still working tirelessly, in conjunction with National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) at combating human trafficking and irregular migration through its grassroots awareness campaigns and sensitization programmes, keeping the populace abreast of the dangers of irregular migration and the threat of vulnerability which leads to human trafficking.

 

WOCON is therefore extremely concerned about the happenings in Libya and other parts of the world where Nigerian women, girls and children are being exploited daily and even now being auctioned especially for forced prostitution, forced labour as well as for other forms of modern slavery.

 

Based on the above, we implore the Nigerian Government and the society as a whole to take serious steps to address and find solutions to the grievous modern slavery issues in Libya and other parts of the world where our women and girls are being handled under severe and inhuman conditions - the most important step being the enforcement of all legal obligations contained in the array of international instruments which respond to the problem of human trafficking by seeking to advance the realization of human rights by everyone.

 

As we wrap up the 16 Days Activism on Violence against women, WOCON is charging individuals and other Partner Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), both local and international to support the fight against slavery in Libya and irregular migration at large and to promote peace and fair human treatment.

 

We call on the Government to embark on definite collaborative efforts with all relevant stakeholders especially Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)/NGOs to translate our numerous advocacy efforts and activities into meaningful actions to help trafficked victims, survivors and about to be trafficked individual women and girls.

 

We request that the root causes of vulnerability to trafficking and irregular migration be proactively tackled rather than a midstream reactive approach where each case continues to be treated separately or on an individual basis.

 

We also call for private-sector cooperation in the fight against trafficking and for the involvement of survivors at all levels of policymaking.

 

We call on well-meaning Nigerians and the international community to join hands with NAPTIP, WOCON and other CSOs to fight this menace before it eats up our youth and leave our country defenseless and exposed to further risks.

 

In the light of recent happenings in Libya, it becomes imperative for everyone to work to uplift victims and survivors in order to foster a freer and more prosperous world. 

 

Women’s Consortium of Nigeria(WOCON)

13 Okesuna Street

Off Igbosere Road, Lagos

www.womenconsortiumofnigeria,org

Twitter: WomenConNG

Wocon95@yahoo.com

 

ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS – NOVEMBER 25TH 2017.

IN COMMEMORATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

No matter where violence against women happens, what form it takes, and whom it impacts, it must be stopped. This year just like every other, the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals #to leave no one behind#cannot be fulfilled without ending all forms of violence against women.

 

One in three women and girls experience violence in their lifetime that is one too many. It happens in every country and every society. It happens at home, in schools, on the streets, at work, on the internet and in Refugee camps. It happens during war, and even in the absence of war. Too often, it is normalized and goes unpunished. (UN Women). It is also unfortunately a frequent occurrence in the IDP Camps

 

Violence against women and girls has many manifestations, including forms that may be more common in specific settings, countries and regions; it manifests itself as physical, sexual, emotional and even economic problem.

 

Human trafficking for instance which has formed the bulk of WOCON’s work in the last 22 years has become a global concern as there is hardly any nation that does not identify with this devastating menace. At every point, Nigerian women and girls are being ferried abroad under various pretexts only to end up as prostitutes, domestic servants, slaves and destitute. Within and outside Nigerian borders, thousands of under-aged girls and young women continue to be trafficked for domestic servitude/forced labour and most especially for sexual exploitation.

Trafficked victims continue to face exploitation at its highest level including forced prostitution and all forms of slavery-related activities organ harvesting and baby harvesting (i.e. taking newly born babies from their mothers with their consent or through manipulative means).

 

In addition, more women are more likely than men to be injured, sexually assaulted or murdered by an intimate partner. Intimate partner violence (IPV) has a lifetime prevalence of approximately 60% and is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality for women of all reproductive ages, especially among younger women and during pregnancy.The goal of IPV prevention is to stop it from happening in the first place. However, effective solutions are prevention efforts that continue to be made to ultimately reduce the occurrence of IPV by promoting healthy, respectful, nonviolent relationships through continuous sensitization.

 

Domestic violence which is very common is a pattern of controlling behaviours that one Partner uses to gain power over the other; a form of physical violence or threat of physical violence to get control, emotional or mental abuse and sexual abuse.

 

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is another scourge and threat to woman and girls everywhere and to which WHO also confirmed that, "the procedure has no health benefits for girls and women and such procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth increased risk of newborn death and is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. Nevertheless, young girls particularly continue to experience this gruesome act day by day in Nigeria.

 

Child marriage, another form of violence against women is usually a marriage where the female partner is below 18 in age, a practice that disproportionately affects girls. Child marriages are very common in Sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria, though occurs in other parts of the world too. The practice of marrying young girls is rooted in patriarchal ideologies of control of female behaviour and is also sustained by traditional practices such as dowry and bride price

 

UNICEF states that"Marrying girls under 18 years old is rooted in gender discrimination, encouraging premature and continuous childbearing and giving preference to boys' education. Child marriage is also a wrong strategy for economic survival as families marry off their daughters at an early age to reduce their economic burden."

Consequences of child marriage include restricted education and employment prospects, increased risk of domestic violencechild sexual abuse, pregnancy and birth complications, and social isolation. In some cases a woman or girl who has been raped may be forced to marry her rapist, in order to restore the honor of her family; or marriage by abduction, a practice in which a man abducts the woman or girl whom he wishes to marry and rapes her, in order to force the marriage.

 

International Labour Organization has stated that early and forced marriages are defined forms of modern-day slavery and we also join our voices to theirs today, to say NO to early/forced marriages.

Other widespread forms of violence against women and girls around the globe include: trafficking of women and girls for sex, child pornography and labor, while recent discoveries in Nigeria reveal that trafficking now has numerous other forms including victims compelled to act as beggars, forced into sham (false) marriages, women and girls being held hostage and used as sex slaves, pornography production, organ removal, among others.Less documented forms include crimes committed in the name of “honour” femicide, prenatal sex selection, female infanticide, body shaming or sexism, economic abuse, political violence, elder abuse, dowry-related violence, acid-throwing.


Particular groups of women and girls, such as members of racial, ethnic and sexual minorities; HIV-positive women; migrants and undocumented workers; women with disabilities; women in detention and women affected by armed conflict or in emergency settings may be more vulnerable to violence and may experience multiple forms of violence on account of compounded forms of discrimination and socio-economic exclusion.

The perpetrators of violence usually include the State and its agents, other family members, friends or other familiar individuals, and strangers. (UN General Assembly, 2006)

 

It is imminent to combat all forms of violence. Ending violence against women and girls is possible. There are proven solutions for supporting and empowering survivors to stop the reoccurrence of this violence. Laws and policies are powerful tools to punish perpetrators, provide justice and services, and end impunity. There are many ways that we can resist and prevent violent norms, attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate violence against women, and we at WOCON believe everyone has a role in it and has a part to play.

It is of paramount importance for the Nigerian Government and the society as a whole to take serious steps to address and find solutions to all forms of violence against women and girls with the most important step being the enforcement of all legal obligations. Human rights standards should also be incorporated in law reforms for combating the trafficking in women and girls.

 Possible ways to help end violence against women and girls Include:

-          Knowing the signs.

-          Getting your community educated.

-          Getting your community organized.

-          Listen to empower.

-          Have an intervention plan.

-          Be a resource.

-          Report offenders to authorities.

WOCON lends it voice during this 16days Activism period to other Activists everywhere around the globe continues to condemn all forms of violence against women and girls EVERYWHERE!

 

Thelma Anwatu

Program officer

 

 

 

Women’s Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON) is a non-political and non profit making Association, committed to the enhancement of the status of women and related feminist goals and ideals. A non-governmental, non-partisan and non-religious Organisation committed to the enforcement of Women and children’s Rights and the attainment of equality, development and peace.
 

Mission Statement

Women’ Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON) shall be non-political and none-profit making Association, committed to the enhancement of the status of women and related feminist goals and ideals.

A non-governmental, non-partisan and non-religious Organisation committed to the enforcement of Women and children’s Rights and the attainment of equality, development and peace.

WOCON holds a United Nations special Consultative Status

Human Trafficking


WOCON Ogun State staff and executive director at Seme Border for the return of rescued Beninese trafficked children to be reunited with their parents.

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Political Empowerment

WOCON as South-West coordinator for women political empowerment project and WARDC organised strategic planning for female politicians at local government level.

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Children Education

Donation of school bags and materials by WOCON with support from Wings against the dawn USA to school children in the Ajegunle Community School.


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Civic Education

Voter/Civic Education in rural communities - Ogun State.

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Photo News

WOCON  @CSW 61WOCON CSW 61 SIDE EVENTWOCON  @CSW 61 2016 International Day of the Girl -Child2016 International Day of the Girl -ChildWOCON team with the officials of the Federal Ministry of Labour, Abeokuta, Ogun StateWOCON visits Ogun State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social DevelopmentGender and Transformative Leadership Traning in NigeriaGender and Transformative Leadership Traning in NigeriaGender and Transformative Leadership Traning in Nigeria