At least 80% of Nigerian women and girls arriving in Italy are sex trafficking victims, Vatican news agency Agenzia Fides reported on Wednesday.
Hundreds of thousands of people fall victim to human trafficking every year in Africa alone,” Monsignor Ignatius Ayau Kaigama said in Abuja during an international conference against human trafficking co-organized by the Pontifical Council of Pastoral Care for Migrants and Itinerant People and Catholic charity, Caritas Internationalis as one of the members of Christian Organisations Against Trafficking in Human Beings (COATNET).
The three day conference was aiming to create stronger links between concerned parties, promote joint actions and share best practices of combating trafficking and slavery while offering assistance and giving hope to victims. Nigeria is one of the countries most badly affected by the scourge of human trafficking with hundreds or even thousands of people deceived and sold into slavery each year, especially into prostitution.
“Of the overall number of victims, 79% are sexually exploited and the majority are women,” said Kaigama, who is the archbishop of of Jos and president of the Nigerian Bishops Conference.
“The remaining 21% are coerced into forced labor, and the majority of these are men”. “In some parts of West Africa, the majority of trafficking victims are children under 18,” he went on. “This conference must find a way to put an end to child labor in all its forms,” the archbishop said.
He also called on the Nigerian government “to declare human trafficking a national disgrace, and to take urgent and long-lasting measures to address its root causes. This in light of recent reports that 80% of Nigerian girls that reach Italy, do so for reasons of sex trafficking.
The Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, Michel Roy, said the incidence of human trafficking is on the rise worldwide and stressed the need “to re-humanize our society.” He said the scourge of trafficking is increasing for a number of reasons, including growing poverty and increased secularization and the accompanying decline in morality and ethics that this brings.
When it comes to Nigeria, Roy described how there is “a lot more public awareness” about the dangers of human trafficking than in the past but it still tends to be a problem that is not openly talked about much in society. He said one of the ways Caritas and other charitable organizations are trying to tackle problem is to make the families (of potential trafficking victims) aware of what is going on through information campaigns.
Roy said he believes the incidence of human trafficking is “probably getting worse in the whole world” and said this is due to a variety of factors. This includes a growing impoverishment due to the effects of globalization, the prices of commodities going down and “increased secularization and the lack of morality and ethics” arising from this phenomenon that prompts people to “make money” out of the poor and vulnerable.
“We need to re-humanize society,” he declared, describing it as “a big challenge.” Cardinal John Onaiyekan, who welcomed participants to the conference call on NAPTIP, ILO, and other agencies to partner with religious organizations to fight human trafficking.
“Girls education up to university level should be free; a properly educated woman wouldn’t be trafficked,” Fr. Evaristus Bassey said. “The struggle for good governance is the struggle for human dignity,” he added.
“80% of Nigerian girls who go to Italy are for sex trafficking. A lot of young women are aware of the ills of human trafficking but the drive to survive hardship in Nigeria is one push factor. Education for girls will fight inequality and promote the SDG goals to fight human trafficking”.
Source: Agenzia Fides/Caritas Nigeria/Vatican Radio
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