Youths constitute the strongest force every nation has, and with the right orientation they do great things. In Nigeria, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has a community development group saddled with the sole responsibility of anti-trafficking in persons – the ATP CD group. This is perhaps one of the means through which governments in African countries (from which most victims of human trafficking originate) could curb the prevalent act. Several victims of human trafficking suffer travails such as sexual abuse, physical and child abuse, servitude, etc and the stigma of such experiences render rehabilitative efforts difficult. In a year 2005 UNESCO report titled Searching for Best Practices to Counter Human Trafficking in Africa: A Focus on Women and Children and written by Thanh-Dam Truong and Maria Belen Angeles, it was stated that “the vulnerability of women and children to re-trafficking is due to a number of factors such as the forms of intra-household decision-making and tacit ‘tolerance’ of trafficking mechanisms among the wider public, but also to the mishandling of trafficked persons driven by social and cultural values that carry stigmatizing effects.”
In alignment with the unwavering efforts of the Nigerian government to mitigate human trafficking, corps members of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons community development (CD) group in Eti Osa 1 local government have organised a one-day discourse at the Kuramo Senior Secondary school in Victoria Island. Focusing on the subject of child trafficking in the event, the youths invited guest speakers from the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficked Persons and other related matters (NAPTIP) to enlighten the young public about human trafficking. They also coordinated a debate themed “Should child trafficking be condoned even with the consent of the victim?” and moderated the contest between two secondary schools in the neighbourhood namely, Kuramo Senior College and Victoria Island Secondary School.
During her speech, the main speaker and Head of Public Enlightenment Unit (NAPTIP), Mrs Hajara Tunde-Osho explained that human trafficking does not hold if the use of force, deception and exploitation are not involved. As such, not everyone who has a domestic assistant or the colloquially known “houseboy or housegirl” is guilty of human trafficking. This aroused a sense of obvious shock in the minds of some members of the audience. As such, the listeners inferred that certain factors demarcate child trafficking from child labour. She further stated that human traffickers pick up children from villages and go to cities to distribute them as “househelps”, promising their families money in return for their innocent children. In a supporting address offered by another NAPTIP staff, Mr Samuel Okoroji of the Monitoring Unit, the audience were enlightened of the actual act of trafficking in persons. According to him, “If deception, coercion or exploitation is not involved, it is not human trafficking. A person’s consent and agreement to leave her own people or willingly emigrate from her country in order to work elsewhere nullifies the possibility of trafficking in persons. Therefore, unless the element of the immigrant’s expectation or terms of migration is being trampled on, one cannot say that a person has been trafficked.”
After the lectures and debate the judges compared their score sheets and announced the results of the arguments. According to the moderator, Victoria Island Secondary School won with 40 out a maximum of 50 possible points and trailing behind was Kuramo Senior College with a lag of 4 points. A member of the judging panel, corps member Midge, however commented on the debaters’ performances and advised that they utilise apposite facts, statistics, examples and citations whenever they are chanced to participate in similar debates. The ATP group through the guest speakers and select corps members then presented star prizes to the winning debaters (Mukoro Friday and Amor Godspower). Consolation prizes were also given to the runners-up (Chukwuemeka Chinelo and Ufoma Rita) while the representative staff of both participating schools, Miss Ruth Abanum of Victoria Island and Mr Surban Kuramo Senior College received the same kinds of gifts on behalf of their schools.
Ayo Morakinyo writes from Lagos. He blogs at www.moraks.blogspot.com.