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)
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 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,