Monday, March 14, 2011
Human Trafficking, The African Angle
By Ifeanyi Onwumere
Human trafficking is the modern day slavery. I’m sure we’ve all heard it before, but until we find a way to purge it from among us, it bears repeating. Just as slavery proved an extremely cruel, yet profitable business venture in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, modern-day slavery (human trafficking) provides enormous profits with little risk to the trafficker. Today, for every 20,000 persons trafficked, only 1 trafficker is imprisoned. It’s no wonder that this form of human brutality has defied all governmental efforts to eradicate it.
Impoverished or distressed victims place their faith in those who promise a better life somewhere far away. By the time reality reveals the lies contained within the promise, it’s too late. Someone owns them and they are the property of masters, who treat them worse than animals by caging them, tying them up, burning them for infractions, and imprisoning them within the confines of the pimp's twisted world.
There are many facets to human trafficking. In this writing, I speak of human sex trafficking--the most lucrative business when compared to other forms of modern slavery.
Wikipedia defines Sex trafficking as: “The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act in which a commercial sex act is induced by force….”
In parts of Nigeria, Togo, Cameroon, Liberia, many third world countries, and in Eastern Europe and Asia, it’s often the parents, who for a small profit, lead their daughters into this unethical venture.
Poverty and ignorance on the part of parents who can’t afford food for a family and the lack the financial capacity to train their daughters in school, tempt parents to hand their children over to men and women in this business hoping to receive financial returns in the future. The patrons or madams as they are called promise to take the girls to Western Europe where “a job is waiting for them.” Upon reaching Europe, especially Western Europe, these girls will find that there is no job. Their madam or patron forces them to into prostitution by demanding the girl repay the money spent on her travels. At times, the parents are threatened with death unless their child pays the full amount, which in most cases, is triple the amount the trafficker spent.
The most painful aspect of the whole profession remains that these pimps strip away a girl’s freedom by placing her under constant surveillance. Many girls have no access to a telephone, or if they do, calls are carefully monitored to ensure they speak only with clients. In most cases, a telephone does them little good as they are somewhere strange and don’t know the language.
Some girls never make it as far as Europe. Like the slave trade in years past, they die en-route under perilous conditions.
To buttress my point, follow this link to an article that appeared in Sahara, an online news outlet based in the United State of America but edited by a Nigerian.
Conclusion: “ Charity they say begins a’ home”. Parents, I must say, must share the blame of these ugly and horrible trends. They should know to whom they hand over their child. Poverty is not an excuse to encourage a child into prostitution. Of course, some of these parents know that their daughters are going into prostitution and encourage them. But what they often fail to comprehend is the hazardous nature of the business and its after effect and life long trauma. All national governments in collaboration with international agencies as well as the immigration officials must place all hands on deck to eradicate this ugly monster that has reared its head into African society. Stiff penalties which are not easily recovered from must be melted out to those directly or indirectly involved and serve as a deterrent to participants in this modern sex slave industry.
Trading in humans is not acceptable, no matter how impoverished the nation, people group or family. Only when education and spiritual/family ties override greed and poverty will we see a decrease in human trafficking and sexual slavery.