Stakeholders in the fight against human trafficking have advised that, to curb the menace, the equality model has to be implemented by ensuring that laws that criminalise prostitution have to be repealed and the demand for prostitution penalised and buyers, exploiters and traffickers of prostitution held accountable.
Also, they condemned the spate of trafficking in recent times, especially among women and girls in the country.
The stakeholders made this call during a media interaction on the sidelines of a press conference for the film screening titled ‘Oloture’, produced by EbonyLife today, January 18, 2022, in Abuja.
Recall that an estimated 1.4 million Nigerians are said to be victims of human trafficking, with the majority being women and girls, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
This was the crux of deliberations during the media briefing on sex trafficking and the screening of the movie directed by Kenneth Gyang, which exposes human trafficking in Nigeria.
Highlighting the role of gender inequality in human trafficking, the executive director, Association Iroko Onlus, Dr. Esohe Aghatise classified prostitution as violence perpetrated against women and highlighted the need to change the narrative and recognise that the demand for sexual services is the origin of prostitution and sex trafficking, not the women who were trafficked as providers.
Aghatise said girls from Edo State constituted a significant number of the female population trafficked to Europe and other parts of the world for prostitution.
“Most of the girls suffer human rights violations at the hand of their traffickers and those they work for,” she said.
Aghatise lamented that the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) recent statistics that pegged the commercial sexual exploitation industry at $99 billion should be more of concern to stakeholders because vulnerable and marginalised Nigerian women are the victims.
The executive director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Ms. Tiana Bien-Aime highlighted how the movie exposes the brutal realities of human trafficking in the country and the world at large.
Bien-Aime called for the elimination of all forms of trafficking against women and girls and to understand the links to harmful cultural practices.
Also speaking, the executive director of SESP and survival of trafficking, Ms. Mickey Meji alluded that women and girls in prostitution suffer gross human rights violations.
“Prostitution is chosen for them by our colonial past and apartheid, persistent inequalities, poverty, past sexual and physical abuse, the pimps who take advantage of our vulnerabilities and the men who buy us in prostitution.
“Most women are drawn into prostitution at a young age; some as young as 13 years. Women and girls in prostitution have almost no resources to help them exit the sex trade.”
Meanwhile, the ambassadors from different embassies spoke on ways to combat human trafficking in the country and the world at a large.
Science Nigeria reports that ‘Òlòturé’ tells the story of a young and naive Nigerian journalist who goes undercover to expose the dangerous and brutal underworld of human trafficking.
Based in Lagos, it depicts how sex workers are recruited to be exploited overseas.
The screening was put together by Gloria Steinem’s Equality Fund To End Sex Trafficking and jointly supported by the embassies of Argentina, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the United States, FIIAPP and UN Women.
Among those who graced the occasion included H.E Annika Hahn of England; Ambassador of Sweden to Nigeria, H.E Alejandro Herrero; Ambassador of Argentina to Nigeria, H.E Mary Beth Leonard; Ambassador of United States to Nigeria, Oliver Chatelais; H.E Juan Sell, Ambassador of Spain to Nigeria, the deputy head of mission of the French Embassy among others.