Human Trafficking is a real problem in our communities! Sometimes, it is the people we trust that mislead and destroy our girls. There needs to be a brake placed to break this chain of inhumane treatment against women, men, and children. Unfortunately, this illegal activity of trade has become a billion-dollar business worldwide. Tackling and advocating for positive change require unconventional methods. This unconventional method was employed by one of the panelist speakers and activist, Omotola Fawunmi.
Ms. Fawunmi, a Nigerian-US-based human trafficking activist, shared that her non-profit organization has been able to save 526 girls trapped in human trafficking slavery, but thousands of girls are still trapped in the Middle East, and there is plenty of work left to be done.
Advocates against human trafficking have said that this illegal business is worth more than one hundred and fifty billion US dollars ($150B) worldwide, which makes it difficult to be stopped, control, or curtailed. Potential solutions to this man-made problem were discussed during a live Facebook webinar organized by Alaafia Women, a grassroots International advocacy group that advocates against women and girls’ violence.
The webinar was hosted by Dr. Ebere Azumah, CEO of Azumah Solutions LLC, a certified Life Coach who hosts Public Health Community Educational webinar on a platform called Healthy and Uplifted. She emphasized that human trafficking is an International Public Health problem and it is paramount that our communities are constantly educated on some of the tricks employed by recruiters to lure girls into trafficking.
Ms. Lashandra Venon, a human trafficking activist based in Milwaukee, defined the practice as the recruitment, transportation, harboring, receiving, abduction, and selling of people through deceit to exploit them. “Most of those trafficked are girls who are lured into prostitution to produce pornographic materials and to be involved in sex trafficking and other forms of slavery” said Venon.
Dr. Azumah inquired if there were shared experiences between the girls trafficked from third world countries to the Middle East or Europe from those recruited locally in the United States. Ms. Venon reported that there were indeed similarities between these two groups. She said recruiters in the United States target victims from vulnerable populations to be sex slaves.
Ms. Fawunmi recounted some horrifying stories from human trafficking victims. “A Nigerian girl was invited to Togo by her so-called boyfriend. She was drugged and became unconscious. She woke up in a hospital bed. When she inquired of what happened to her, the nurses told her that she was a victim of an accident and she was being treated for
Injuries related to the accident. The girl felt sick and eventually returned to Nigeria; where she discovered that some of her organs had been harvested. She tried to get some answers from her boyfriend, who at this time, had ghosted her. Sadly, she died shortly after.
Ms. Fawunmi recounted another story of a victim from Nigeria, who was taken to Cote D’Ivoire as a sex slave. She was forced to have sex with more than 15 male clients per day. Thankfully, she eventually got connected to Omotola’s organization, who helped her to return to Nigeria. During her time of cleansing, they extracted several broken condoms from her vagina. There are lots of horrible things that these girls go through,” she added. “There is a need to penetrate this well-organized crime and lucrative business to stop the violence against women” she concluded.
Dr. Ebere Azumah also inquired if social media has helped the fight against human trafficking, or has it hurt the cause. Omotola believes social media has both helped and hurt the cause. “Social media has helped many victims find trustworthy organizations to help them while they are victims, but it has also been used as a tool for recruitment.” Omotola recounted how a camouflaged recruiter came looking for girls on her WhatsApp group. Fortunately, his mission was apprehended when Omotola began to ask him questions and also noticed the discrepancies in his answers. Dr. Azumah reiterated that this is a public health issue and the community has to work together and harder to combat this epidemic, so our girls can be saved to live their lives fully.
Additionally, check out www.healthyanduplifted.com for our upcoming webinars. In celebration of the International Women’s Day, our next webinar discussion is scheduled for March 7th 2021 at 4 pm ET, and our theme for discussion is, “Is the Value of Women Underrated? "