Posts Tagged ‘Human Trafficking’

IMG_20200715_192255_381 I recently had a chat with Chimee Adioha of #BlackBoyReview on writing #MyMindIsNoLongerHere, the desperation to leave and the reflection of this trend in literature.

Book Cover Design Concept

Cover design was by visual artist Fred Martins, the design interprets the book title. It’s a floating balloon of a head, pulling of from the rest of the body.

This conversation is really coming late, but it’s always better late than never. Reading MY MIND IS NO LONGER HERE was a form of reading about men, reading through, from the eyes of men and what men really feel they need. We would like to know your intentions towards writing a book that wanted to talk about men and the kind of lives that are mostly associated with men.

Yes, indeed this conversation has been a long time coming. I am glad we are finally able to do this and I must thank you for the time and the platform.

You’ve started off with a very interesting question. I will like to start by stating from the outset that the first inspiration to write this book was a newspaper headline. Sometime circa 2011 I read a story in the metro section of one of Nigeria’s top dailies about a so-called travel agency which had swindled a lot of people of their money, promising to help them migrate to Canada. At that time too, issues of human trafficking was also rife as it still is today. I thought to interrogate that desperation to leave at all cost, and the people who had made an industry out of that desperation.

Now, when you think human trafficking, you are likely to immediately think of the female gender. The prostitution rings across Europe fed by trafficked girls from Nigeria easily comes to mind. Chika Unigwe’s  On Black Sisters Street which told that story very well. But Boys are also trafficked for many other reasons. And indeed, in the whole desperation to leave and make it anywhere else at all cost community, men top the charts. So, I decided to make my work about men, to tell their own story and to explore it from the lives of four characters from different backgrounds whose interest converge on this project of leaving.

Did you in any way had to infuse your life experiences into the story generally. Was there a character amongst the four men that you felt was too close to your own reality.

The short answer will be no. None of the characters reflects my own lived experience personally. However, I infused the stories of other real people who I either knew or heard about. Not in an autobiographical way though. More like bits and pieces of it.  I like most people who grew up in these parts especially from low to middle income backgrounds under the influence of IBB’s stifling structural adjustment programme, know someone, a relative, friend, school mate or someone on their street who has left through some kind of runs, so it’s a very familiar experience.

Read the rest of the Interview here

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child-trafficking-300x200Human trafficking, or what some will refer quite aptly to as modern day slavery, is a huge global challenge. According to the International Labour Organisation, about 20.9 million people have been victims of forced labour globally from 2002-2011, although the exact number of human trafficking victims remains unknown, the majority of victims affected tend to be women and children.

In more recent figures released by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation, in a report tagged ‘Global Slavery Index’, Nigeria infamously came out tops in Africa and fourth in the world on the list of countries with enslaved people out of a total of 162 countries researched. In the ranking, India, China and Pakistan and Nigeria seemingly contested with each other to emerge as countries with the most slaves. The others on the top 10 countries on this list of shame include Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, DR Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Together they account for more than three quarters of the people living in slavery globally.

Over time, we have been regaled with all sorts of numbers – some real, some exaggerated – that they no longer shock us. Indeed they seem surreal and make the particular issue they represent seem distant and abstract. Many of us reading this piece have heard about human trafficking but hardly appreciate its magnitude nor are we aware of the fact that most of us are indeed guilty of it. There is a tendency for us to, at the mention of human trafficking, think of prostitutes, young girls shipped off to Italy to sell sex and fund their ‘madams’ inordinate life styles. We are no doubt correct, but then, there is more to it.

A deeper look at the challenge reveals that there are a lot of behind-the-scene players, components of the human slavery chain, including otherwise respectable members of society and even organisations, who are exploiting women and children for sex and labour and contributing even more than the famous “Italy Madams” in raking up the slavery index of our country.

An urban centre like Lagos makes for a good case study. Daily, there is an influx of persons, many of them children, into the city with nothing but hope for a better life or the promise of it by whoever is bringing them. In actual fact, the children are coming because there is a high demand for them to satisfy the needs of middle and upper class families whose parents, in the career and business rat race, are too busy to meet up with the challenges of the home and caring for their children.

We need helps, to cook, as stewards, as nannies, as launderers, as drivers etc.; and when we want one, we ask around and make contacts and someone is delivered. Now, there is no crime in needing help at home. We become culpable however by how we procure this help and how we treat the help. UNICEF estimates that 15 million child workers exist in Nigeria, many of who are domestic workers living with employers; they have no familial relationships and are employed through the middlemen.

Did you pay someone (a middleman) to assist in sourcing for that help? Are you paying the help for the service? If they are of school age, are they attending school? Do they have time at all to rest, play and study like children their age? How is their dressing? Can they be easily made out in company of your children as the help because of the worn or oversized cloths they are clad in? Do they enjoy the privilege of a mattress or are they banished to the mat or the cold floor at night? What do they eat, left-overs after the rest of the family has had their fill? Do you spank them for acts that would have hardly gotten a verbal condemnation should they have been committed by your own child of the same age?

Should any of the answers to the above be a yes, then you are guilty of human trafficking and child labour. And it must be said that the above list is by no means exhaustive. Perhaps, a sincere thorough soul search will reveal that indeed we are all guilty.

There is a dangerous new trend developing. Recently the police on two occasions discovered homes in Imo State where young girls were kept principally as baby making machines. It is pertinent to note that it is otherwise respectable members of the society that demand for and purchase these babies. But the ugly situation is getting even worse. There are now a number of so-called fertility centres all over that recruit girls between the ages of 15-18 to donate their eggs which are used to help childless couples achieve conception. These girls are paid paltry sums by the clinics who harvest their eggs after hyper-stimulation, which is a dangerous medical procedure with many implications. Because the girls are illiterate, they undergo these surgeries without an understanding of the procedure nor the implications of it.

Human trafficking is a grievous offence punishable by law in Nigeria and even more; it is an offence against our consciences and an indictment on all our moral and religious grandstanding. And because of our levels of involvement, it is difficult to solve, requiring collaborative efforts by all to deal with. The first step to achieving this is for us individuals who are always quick to condemn or cringe at the mention of some of these nauseating topics to examine ourselves and note our own degree of involvement and take the club out of our own eyes.

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