Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Poverty is Man-made...

Today I learned that the reporter who took the picture of the child I wrote about on the article
"We Will Make Things Happen - via World Pulse," committed suicide. It's shocking and sad to learn about such tragedy. I have mixed emotions of sadness and helplessness.

The problem of poverty is real but not many leaders probably view it as a priority to be solved.
Poverty is man-made...and only man can provide the solution.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Domestic Violence...Will It Ever End?

This wouldn't be the first time that I've written an article about a diplomat who has violated human rights and got away with it because of diplomatic immunity or stature in society. But I will focus on the human rights violation committed in general and not the stature of the offender.

A few days ago I read a link to an article from a Women's NGO site regarding the brutal beating inflicted by a Nigerian diplomat on his wife. (​20/jonathan-reinstates-wife-be​ating-kenyan-ambassador-dr-chi​jioke-wilcox-wigwe/).

If the pictures are anything to go by, the physical injuries which the Ambassador's wife accused him of inflicting on her were clear evidence of domestic violence. To describe her condition in the local lingo commonly used for badly-beaten people - she was used as a punching bag…and worse.

Studies revealed that such kind of violence are not documented in Nigeria because of widespread tolerance of violence against women: "once a woman is married, she is expected to endure whatever she meets in her matrimonial home." The study went as far as stating that half of Nigeria’s women are victims of domestic violence.

Some members of their families and within their communities subject countless women and girls in Nigeria to violence, as in many countries throughout the world. Such incidents are difficult to document, the violation being done in the privacy of what is supposed to be called a home. However, studies also suggest that the levels of violence are high. More than a third and in some groups nearly two-thirds of women in Nigeria are believed to have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence in the family.

In 2007, the Lagos State House of Assembly passed abill "to provide protection against Domestic Violence and for Connected Purposes." The Law was specifically aimed at protecting the victims of domestic violence. However, spreading awareness down to the households in Nigeria was also a problem. To help address this, Women Empowerment and Legal Aid (WELA), a non-government organization (NGO), initiated a move to make homes aware of their civil rights and for organisations and lawyers to utilize the law to arrest domestic violence in Nigeria. (source: Abdulwahab Abdulah of Vanguard)

It’s sad that those we expect to protect us are sometimes the very people involved in the crime…our own family-members or even the police. Fear and shame and the cultural belief that men are the dominant members in the family often drive the victimized women to the point of suffering in silence. Nigeria is just one of many developing countries where women are expected to be submissive and uncomplaining.

It is where NGOs like DeltaWomen, World Pulse  and other cause-oriented organizations involved in protecting and promoting women’s rights in particular, come in. They bring awareness to the world and help move governments and their citizens to recognize the problem and do something about it.

The road to achieving this is by no means easy but it is moving and the number is growing that can put pressure to governments like Nigeria to seriously address the problem.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Musings on Human Trafficking...

I couldn’t help getting emotional again as I read a touching post from a writer about a girl who was sold to a brothel at age six and locked inside a room to be raped by 15 or more men every night.
His words reminded me what I at times forget – that though the human capacity for evil can be so great, humans have an equally awesome capacity for resilience and recovery.

I’ve read quite a number of articles of how women and children survived abuses wrought by war, poverty and greed for power and money. That they survived at all is amazing. Their survival and show of hope and strength to rise above what they had gone through always makes me appreciate how life has been good to me.80% of human trafficking involves sexual labor and exploitation, and 19% accounts for victims of forced or bonded labor. It does not surprise me that 90% of human trafficking victims are women and girls, or that over 20,000-50,000 women are trafficked into the United States every year, or that 2 million children are forced into prostitution every year, and half of them live in Asia.

To say at this point that trafficking of human beings “is becoming” a major source of income for some organized crime groups would be an understatement. It has always been there but people way back then probably did not have the courage to get organized to be heard and be strong in number to make the world aware at how serious the problem is. Though these anti-trafficking civic groups have grown, so have these organized crime groups become bolder. They have no qualms about enslaving people, or worse, “executing” those who defy or try to escape from them. And it’s sad that in some publicized news about this, people expected to protect the victims get caught in the web of crime , deceit and power.

I found a very interesting article of how organized human trafficking can be from a July 2005 article of International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) ( . It illustrated how victims are systematically trafficked from Nigeria to Italy, where the largest group of victims from the Sub-Saharan Africa at that time came from Nigeria. It clearly showed the collusion of people from several points of contact until the victims reached their destination.

Even in countries like Cambodia and Kosovo where the UN and NATO peacekeeping forces were stationed, prostitution increased by huge numbers. This has caused a lot of flak and criticism on the UN and NATO from women's rights and human rights groups for not doing anything concrete about the situation. (source: Tulika Nair)

Despite all the profiling of these criminals and determining the network by which the trafficking cycle reaches its complicity, what has really been done to eradicate it? The problem undeniably persists.

In Nigeria, the government signed and ratified the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (often referred to as the Palermo Protocol). Though PRIO pointed out that domestic legislation and legal practice in the area of trafficking remained erratic in 2005, the Trafficking in Persons report (TIP report) released in 2011 classified Nigeria under Tier 1 (, meaning it has complied with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards. This however, does not say that trafficking no longer exists. It is still identified as a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Government fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and has, over the last year, “sustained a modest number of trafficking prosecutions and provision of assistance to several hundred trafficking victims, but did not demonstrate an increase in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts.” (

The Philippines, in March 2003 enacted a comprehensive anti-trafficking law called The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 or the Republic Act No. 3208. Several women’s rights groups and advocates against human trafficking were formed to help police and prosecute offenders. However, the problem still prevails.

India’s current law—the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956 (ITPA)—does not penalize sex workers. Instead, the legislation targets those who profit from or exploit prostitutes. Government’s move to make trafficking illegal sparked debates in 2008 as some sectors argued this would drive offenders further into hiding thus increasing health risks.

Both India and the Philippines are categorized as Tier 2 under the 2011 Trafficking in Persons report. This ranking is the second to lowest in which “the government does not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)’s minimum standards, but is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.”

Human trafficking will thrive anywhere for as long as there are people willing to pay for sex or child labor, and poverty drives people to desperation to be able to survive.

It takes a lot of perseverance, courage and hope for victims to rise above the trauma.

It takes compassion and understanding from others, not ridicule and persecution to help these victims regain a normal life again.

It takes our voice..our action to move leaders and governments to address major human rights concerns and make things right…