In the 1800s, Seriki William Abass was sold into slavery, after being sold twice and learning multiple languages, he returned to Badagry to become a slave merchant himself. Seriki who was famed for his wealth was also a dreaded slave merchant who was admired and dreaded at the same time. Before boarding a ship, slaves are asked to take a sip from a well right before the point of no return. It is believed that the water had properties that made them forget who they were before being sold into slavery.
Today slavery is dismissed as a thing of history books and old women’s tale. People who are brave enough to read about the history or visit sites to see relics either cry or feel an anger that cuts across centuries.
According to 2016 Global Slavery Index Report, there are 875, 500 Nigerians who are victims of modern slavery. Modern slavery included forced labour, human trafficking, slavery like practices such as forced marriage, debt bondage and forced labour.
Walk Free Foundation describes Human trafficking as recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person through any coercive means, such as threat, use of force, deception, abuse) for the purpose for exploitation (forced labour, organ removal, sexual exploitation etc ).
On Monday, a Spanish warship, Cantabria, docked at the southern port of Salerno carrying 375 migrants and 26 dead Nigerian women whose bodies were found at sea.
The women aged 14-18 were Nigerian migrants heading to Italy at the expense of human traffickers who charge about $6,000 to get to Italy, $4,000 of which is for the trans-Saharan journey to Libya.
BBC reports that the women’s bodies are being kept in a refrigerated section of the warship. Most of the 375 survivors were sub-Saharan Africans, from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, The Gambia and Sudan, among them were 90 women – eight of them pregnant – and 52 children.
According to Devatop Center for African Development, trafficked Nigerian women and children are recruited from rural areas within the country’s borders − women and girls for involuntary domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.
the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons estimate that about 90 per cent of girls that are been trafficked to Europe are taken to shrines to take ‘oaths of secrecy.’
Girls aged 14-18 should be in secondary school completing their education. They shouldn’t be forced to embark on arduous journeys that put their lives at risk.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Matters, Abike Dabiri-Erewa while speaking with Punch Newspaper explained that “Fatalities are increasing on the Mediterranean because the smugglers are using smaller boats. I just returned from a summit in Addis-Ababa where we are coming up with a comprehensive irregular migration document. By July next year, a formal document would be unveiled. I hope it would assist in checking the sad trends.
“The migrants are going over there to work, so there is a way it could be properly regularised.
“Unfortunately, the part of Europe they are migrating to is no longer interested in saving anyone; they are tired. We are appealing to our youths to stop illegal migration.”
Human Traffickers use the promise of money to entice parents in rural areas to release their children. Young girls are usually prey because their bodies are seen as commodities to be exploited.
Ending Human Trafficking starts with all of us. Make a phone call, tweet, call your relatives in villages and tell them to say no if anyone approaches them to send their young girls abroad to make money for them.
Tweet “ Let’s put an end to human trafficking, don’t sell your female children abroad for money.”