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Human Trafficking in Nigeria
Nigeria is currently estimated to be the largest human trafficking hub in the world. Thousands of Nigerians, most of them women and young girls, become victims of sexual and labor exploitation each year. However, there are a number of governmental and non-governmental organizations actively working to stop this trade. These organizations are focused on monitoring human trafficking in and out of Nigeria, as well as helping rescue victims. The Devatop Centre for African Development is one of the leading human rights organizations that advocates putting an end to human trafficking in Nigeria and provides resources for victims who have been rescued.


Facts About Human Trafficking in Nigeria

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) reported that human trafficking in Nigeria dates back to the 15th century when European colonists started the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in the country. In 1807, the British Parliament banned the slave trade, though human trafficking continued to exist. It eventually evolved into the human trafficking we see today, where victims are coerced or threatened into sexual and labor exploitation.

In 2019, 203 cases of human trafficking were reported and investigated by NAPTIP in Nigeria. Seven hundred one suspects were arrested, but only 25 traffickers were actually convicted. Despite the low number of reported cases and the even lower number of convictions, NAPTIP rescued 1,152 victims of human trafficking in 2019. Of those victims, 18.4% were rescued from foreign travel, which promotes prostitution. Additionally, of the victims rescued, 80.6% were female and half of them were minors. A 2017 report published by the International Organization for Migration showed that “Women and unaccompanied girls of Nigeria are among the most at risk of being trafficked for sexual exploitation.”

Between July 2003 and December 2019, NAPTIP rescued a total of 14,688 victims of human trafficking. Of the 7,487 total reported cases they received, 3,935 were investigated and 332 convictions were made. Undercover CNN reporters, who posed as would-be migrants traveling from Nigeria to Italy in 2018, discovered that the Edo State in Nigeria is one of the largest human trafficking departure points in Africa. Many of these victims are trapped refugees who do not have enough money to finish traveling across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.


Fighting Human Trafficking in Nigeria

The Devatop Centre for African Development is a Nigerian-based advocacy organization that works towards ending human trafficking and other human rights violations. The Centre uses a combination of educational and support programs. The organization’s programs focus on informing youth about human trafficking practices, encouraging members of the community to join the fight against human trafficking and empowering survivors to make a safe and supported transition back into society.

Executive Director Joseph Osuigwe started the Devatop Centre for African Development in 2014, after being inspired by the testimonies of students and beneficiaries who experienced sexual exploitation. Osuigwe said his pilot project for the Centre was The Academy for Prevention of Human Trafficking and Other Related Matters (TAPHOM), which uses “training, advocacy, research, media and publication to prevent human trafficking.” The first 120 young people to work under the project reached over 6,000 people in over 30 communities across Nigeria with their advocacy and successfully rescued one victim.

Today, the Centre has over 300 volunteers in 15 Nigerian states, as well as in Italy, the Netherlands, the U.S. and South Africa, said Osuigwe in an interview with The Borgen Project. The three main educational programs the Centre offers are the Anti-Human Trafficking Advocacy Program, the Volunteers Against Human Trafficking and the TALKAM Human Rights Project. Each of these programs trains volunteers in advocacy work. Osuigwe said the most successful project has been the TALKAM Human Rights Project, which directly engages members of the community in multiple ways.

The website www.talkam.org, which also has a mobile application offered on the Google Play Store, offers a resource where community members can report human rights abuses to NAPTIP and receive up-to-date information on human trafficking in Nigeria. The radio station Wazobia FM Abuja 99.5 hosts the TALKAM weekly radio program each weekend to discuss information about human trafficking in Nigeria and encourage citizens to join the fight against it. 

Additionally, the Centre hosts a quarterly community TALKAM Dialogue that engages “stakeholders and community representatives to discuss different human rights issues affecting the community,” said Osuigwe.


The Future of the Fight Against Human Trafficking in Nigeria

In 2018, Executive Governor of Edo State Godwin Obaseki signed the Edo State Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Law. This law criminalized human trafficking in Nigeria and created a legal framework in which human traffickers could be reported, investigated and convicted. Additionally, the law created the Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking in Nigeria, which works towards ending human trafficking.

Governor Obaseki also promised the protection and support of human trafficking victims under the law. Human trafficking returnees now receive ₦20,000 (equivalent to approximately $50) and an “empowerment package” that includes training against human trafficking. Osuigwe told The Borgen Project that the Devatop Centre for African Development is also planning to expand the reach of the TALKAM Human Rights Project.

“We want to activate anti-human trafficking advocacy in more states in Nigeria, so as to increase more action against human trafficking,” said Osuigwe.

Nigeria is estimated to be the biggest human trafficking hub in the world. While the country may have a long way to go, organizations like the Centre and the Nigerian government are working to end human trafficking. Through community-based advocacy work and systemic change, such as the passing of the Edo State Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Law, there is hope for more victims to be rescued and more traffickers to be stopped.

Myranda Campanella

Photo: Flickr

10 Accomplishments Made By ThornIn 2012, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore founded Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children. Thorn is an organization that works globally to fight sex trafficking and the exploitation of children. A documentary on the sex slavery of children in Cambodia inspired Moore to create the organization. Thorn created technology to help identify victims of sexual abuse and protect children from online sexual abuse material. Since its foundation, Thorn has made a large impact in eliminating one of the most common and overlooked crimes in the world. Additionally, Thorn gained traction as a very well-known and respected organization. Below are eight accomplishments made by Thorn.

Top 8 Accomplishments Made by Thorn

  1. In 2017, Thorn created Spotlight. Spotlight is software that helps law enforcement save time by identifying predators and victims quicker. In addition, more than 1,200 law enforcement agencies across the United States and Canada use Spotlight. Spotlight has helped reduce critical search time for victims by 60 percent. To date, it has identified a total of 16,927 traffickers and 14,874 children.
  2. In February 2017, Ashton Kutcher gave a 15-minute testimony in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the importance of ending modern-day slavery around the globe. He told a story about when the Department of Homeland Security reached out to his team at Thorn. The Department of Homeland Security needed help to identify the perpetrator of a 7-year-old-girl being abused and watched on the dark web for three years.
  3. In addition to Spotlight, Thorn creates a Technology Task Force. This made up of more than 25 technology companies. Google, Facebook, Microsoft and so forth work together to create even more software to prevent the sexual exploitation of children. Thorn has partnered with a variety of organizations, ranging from government to non-profits. Some other notable partners include Amazon, Twitter, Flickr and Verizon.
  4. In 2018, Thorn surveyed 260 sex trafficking survivors in order to understand the needs of survivors. This survey was able to give insight on average ages of victims, how victims know their traffickers and advertising.
  5. In the 2018 Thorn impact report, it reported that Thorn assisted law enforcement in identifying more than 10,000 victims of child sex trafficking in 38 countries around the world.
  6. In 2018, Thorn educated more than 2,000 teens on Sextortion. Sextortion is a form of blackmail that uses sexual content. Since creating its Stop Sextortion campaign, Thorn has educated more than 3.5 million teens about online sexual extortion.
  7. In 2019, The Audacious Project by TED gave a $280 million grant to eight recipients, Thorn was one of them. Thorn is using grant to launch new software called Safer. Safer helps companies, especially image-hosting websites, identify and eliminate sexual abuse content on their platforms.
  8. With a combination of the software that Thorn has created, the organization is currently able to identify an average of 10 kids per day.

Being less than 10 years old, Thorn has accomplished many things is a short period of time. Though the organization has fewer than 40 employees, Thorn is still able to continuously create and evolve its technology. Thorn already benefits thousands of children worldwide. It will continue to fight child sexual exploitation and trafficking for years to come.

Alyson Kaufman
Photo: Flickr