By: Teresa Anyabuike, SNDdeN

Being the voice of the voiceless is a call for everyone, who is on fire to ameliorate the conditions of others. These others are our brothers and sisters, who are at the margins of society not because they choose to be there, but because of the circumstances and situations of life.

In view of this, in March 26 and June 3, 2023, Africa Faith and Justice Network Nigeria organized a day workshop for the youths of Sacred Heart Parish, Airport and St. Kizito Parish, Kuje both in Abuja. The workshop was targeted at galvanize the energy of these youths to work together to end domestic servitude and human trafficking and to educate and sensitize them on the dangers of these vices which is predominantly harming the youths. It was also aimed at empowering these young people as well as to encourage them to join AFJN Nigeria to raise the concern over the dehumanization of a person resulting from domestic servitude and human trafficking in the public.

The workshop was well attended that the youths were on fire to help sensitize other youths. We began by telling them that Domestic Servitude and Human Trafficking are crimes that could be found within and around them. It is a maltreatment of domestic servants either by force, manipulation, coercion and gaining the trust of victims in order to use them for hard labour, sexual exploitation, organ harvest, drugs and other related crimes. Some of the youths are aware of these crimes, but don’t know the impact on the victims.

According to one of the guest speakers, Lauretta Igoh who works with National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP), perpetrators of human trafficking are mostly related to us, especially our loved ones who we trust. Most times our aunties and uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces, even parents, and significant others those we trust, that could betray our trust to harm us.

She shared with the youths and others present on the danger of domestic servitude and human trafficking, which could lead to the death of victims. These victims are treated as objects for perpetrators selfish again. They dehumanize their victims by exposing them to sexual exploit, hard labour, organ harvest and other felony. The two crimes feed themselves for one lead to the other. Someone who serves as a domestic servant might be trafficked. When a victim is trafficked all her dignity and respect as a human person is lost. The person is treated as an object.

Some of the youths shared their experiences of how some of their friends and family members were sent to live with other relatives and were maltreated. Some were not sent to school and left without food, some others became sex object to their masters and mistresses. They made sure that all the house chores are completed before they eat if they could find food. Most times they starve and are threatened not to speak to anyone about their condition, else they face death.

The alarming rate at which our young ones are been trafficked is very disturbing and needs to be taken seriously. She assured the youths of NAPTIP’s maximum support in the fight against trafficking in persons. She gave out hotline numbers and 627 for MTN users only to report any case of domestic servitude and human trafficking, and other related offenses.

Different instances of trafficking were sited by Lauretta during her presentation on PowerPoint, to show the participants the dangers and sufferings melted out to victims. While she was still making her presentation, one of the youths shared her elder sister’s experience. Her sister was sent to live with a relation of theirs and was turned into a maid without good food and education. Her sister could hardly tell anyone what she was passing through in the home of their relation. It made her so quiet and reserved. When she was finally taken away for there, she became sick and eventually died. According to the narrator the case has been closed, though she believed it was due to all her elder sister went through that contributed to her ill health, which eventually lead to death.

One of the heartwarming outcomes of the workshop was the youths’ willingness to pledge to join force with AFJN to end this evil in Nigeria. We are happy that the youths requested to be thought how they can become effective advocated. want to learn more about advocacy that that is eating deep in our society. We look forward to having more training in advocacy strategies for our youths. This is because we have hope in our youths, and thus we long to provide them with the necessary skills they need to help them on the task ahead of them; that is to be the voice of the voiceless.