Dr Olalekan Ogungbemi, a UK – based Nigerian author and public health expert, has called on government and citizens to do more to address the menace of human trafficking in Nigeria.
Ogungbemi made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lafia, Nasarawa State, while giving insight on his recently published book titled “Samantha’s Story: One Story, Many Victims.”
He pointed out the need for government do its best to address acute poverty and to adequately fund its relevant agencies saddled with the responsibility of tackling the menace of human trafficking.
He identified some systemic factors that fuels the cycle of human trafficking to include poverty, unemployment, bribery, social stigma and rejection from the family members.
Ogungbemi, in his book based on a true life story, x-rayed the lead character, Samanta Matama, a 17-year- old who hailed from Southern part of Nigeria as a victim of human trafficking for prostitution.
The author said Matama was just one of the thousands of girls particularly from Africa and Asia, who were being lured and herded across borders – both land and sea with unrealistic promises of better life with the help of human smugglers for the purpose of making money as a sex worker.
” The book which has 12 chapters and 89 pages, tells the story of ignorance, regret, anguish, anger, neglect, disillusionment, superstition, shame, deceit, corruption, bribery, organised crime, institutional shortcomings and systemic failures that bred and still breeding human trafficking.
“Although, child trafficking happens in all other continents, its proportion is higher in Africa particularly Nigeria, as it is being fueled by unemployment, insecurity, poverty, hunger and deprivation, making the victims more vulnerable.
” The traffickers, fondly called Madam use deceit, financial gift, flamboyant lifestyle as a bait to hoodwink victims to believe that the grass is really greener and rosy at the other side.
“Girls are imported by criminal gangs from poor countries in the Northern and Western parts of the continent. They are exported and forced to pay from their daily earning to be able to pay off heavy debt placed on them by their madams,” he said.
He added that often times, these girls while working as house help were told to carry out sexual act against their wishes.
The author said sometimes, the victims were made to swear to an oath using their body parts- pubic hair and blood to keep them locked up in a cage of their own fear, ignorance and superstitious believe so as not to escape.
” The book depicts human trafficking as a vicious cycle of cruelty and exploitation in which survival of trafficking, after years of forced prostitution have become traffickers themselves.
“The girl’s story is truly a one story – many victims as captured in the title as she has a lofty dreams of better future to enable her assist her family after the death of her father.
” Unfortunately, it was not all rosy afterall as she was infected with HIV in the course of prostitution and eventually died,” he added.
Ogungbemi said that the book depicted corruption, systemic failure, lackadaisical attitude of police officer and immigration policies as reasons why human trafficking thrive in the society.
He, therefore, stressed the need to stem the tide of the dehumanising business in the country.
Ogungbemi appealed to government to be more proactive rather than reactive in order to prevent such illegal movement of girls from the country.
He further advised parents to be on a look out for traffickers, who make lucrative job offers to their children abroad.
He added that any parent found to aid the trafficking their children should be made to face the full wrath of the law.