The report below was sent by Sr Theresa Ani, who is Nigeria Liaison (Resources). The training of frontline networks in Nigeria, to address human trafficking as it appears in their communities, is a crucial step towards prevention and partnership.
Arise-NCWR Human Trafficking sensitisation training was held from 21st – 24th March 2022. The training was highly demanded - having ranked first in the list of suggested themes by the network members. Over 30 network members of the Nigeria Conference of Women Religious (NCWR) gathered live via Zoom for the online training. The training consisted of daily two and half hour sessions from Monday to Thursday (7:30pm – 10pm).
For the 4 nights, different aspects of human trafficking were discussed;
What human trafficking is;
The causes, roots, agents, and tactics used;
Human trafficking in Nigeria with a focus on Edo State;
Consequences and interventions;
Prevention, strategies, the existing network groups;
Core international human right instruments in use.
The training was scholarly and informative, especially for Sisters who have had less experience of anti-human trafficking activity. There was good discussion about what makes people vulnerable, with a clear consensus about the importance of poverty relief and safe opportunity provision.
Among the push factors discussed, poverty ranked first and for the pull factors, the search for greener pastures proved the most significant. This implies skill acquisition and empowerment is central to eradication of poverty. People look out for greener pastures, but they don’t always know the consequences. For that reason, the network sees that lack of awareness on deceptive promises is a major issue that must be tackled through awareness campaigns in the interior villages.
Some examples of the happenings in Nigeria were shared; husbands, who traffic their wives, parents trafficking their children, youths presenting themselves to traffickers, and some others that are sweet-talked into it.
During question and answer, one of the most challenging realities discussed is the fact that it is difficult to prosecute identified traffickers when they are relatives/friends of the victims. When issues are reported to the court, the victims are always reluctant to appear before the court as complainants. They’d rather plead that the case is closed or fail purposely to appear before the court. This makes the work of Sisters fighting this monstrous crime more difficult. The victims do this out of fear – sometimes because they’ve been sworn to secrecy, or from the fact that exposing a rich relation would mean more suffering for a poor family. This is an obstruction to the prosecution of traffickers.
The infographic here displays the result of the post-training feedback administered to the participants after the training. It shows that the presented topics were apt, participants found the training worthwhile and there was an increase in knowledge. More topics were suggested for further training.
Emphasis was laid on the need:
To involve more in the eradication of poverty through support to high-risk families (those in abject poverty), skills training, education of children, and empowerment of women and youths.
To work to change the mentality of people; ‘get-rich-quick syndrome’.
To intensify grassroots awareness. Talking about this, one of the sisters stated “Despite the awareness being carried out, many people have not heard about human trafficking… so grassroots awareness should be intensified with visual aids (Sr. Justina Nelson, RSC).
To respond to the issue of street children: They are on the increase because of the maltreatment they receive from home. According to one of the presenters, “Maltreated children run to take refuge in the kiosks, motor parks, and market places” (Dr. Nosa Aladeselu).
To connect with National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Person (NAPTIP), a government agency committed to the prevention of human trafficking and human degradation. Collaborating with them at the local levels will help the sisters to be more effective and protected from the traffickers.
To educate the people more on their rights as citizens.
To address the issue of internal trafficking that is on the rise. The issue of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the northern part of Nigeria is contributing to the problem.
To work seriously on how to get some bills passed and domesticated in various states in the country.
Although challenges abound, the efforts of the Sisters as Congregations and as a body is commendable and the training was highly appreciated – both verbally and through trails of messages received on the platform. Despite network challenges, many sisters managed to attend the training, not without struggle though.
It is noteworthy to say that throughout the session there was an expressed desire for more intense and cohesive networking. Sr. Patricia Ebegbulem SSL, one of the presenters, and part of the network, emphatically concluded her presentation by saying that “all stakeholders should make networking their mission statement... Only by working together can we find success in our ministry to break this invisible chain of human trafficking” .
Reiterating what the presenter said, the Sisters expressed with examples - that networks are the only way to fight human trafficking. We can go far by going together. Two heads are always better than one.
We look forward to more capacity-building training as members move on with the implementation of learning in their various regions and states.
Some go on mission physically, others through their prayerful support, and still others through financial support. How do you intend to support the Arise-NCWR network in Nigeria?