Sunday, April 08, 2012


sharing an article I wrote forDeltawomen...


Human trafficking has become innovative over the years. With classified advertising websites like, traffickers were afforded a channel to peddle their “commodities” in the safety of their hideouts while their victims stayed locked in a hotel helplessly waiting for their customer, and the next, and the next, and the next.  So it’s no wonder that earns more than $22 million annually from prostitution ads in the United States, as reported by AIM Group, a media research and consulting company.

You can imagine my shock as I went through several articles on human trafficking and read a 2008 article about “baby farms” or “factories” in Nigeria where babies were “bred” to be eventually sold.
Teenagers with unwanted pregnancies were reportedly lured in illegal or unregistered  maternity clinics or hospitals then locked up until they gave birth. They were then forced to give up their babies for a fee of around 20 000 naira ($170). Some were raped while detained there. There were some who had been staying there for years and allowed themselves to be impregnated to later sell their babies. Dire poverty and need to survive pushed some of these girls to be “breeders.” The babies were sold to buyers from 300 000 and 450 000 naira ($2 500 and $3 800) each. Some were sold to legitimate couples who wanted children. Other babies weren’t as lucky. They were sold as offering in rituals to later be killed.    
In the U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report in 2009, Nigeria was described as a “source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation.”  Like other countries where poverty is prevalent, Nigerians were trafficked to destinations outside Africa like Italy, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom (recent news from a high ranking British government official acknowledged the growing problem on human trafficking in the U.K.).It was reported that an increasing number of young girls claiming asylum in the United Kingdom were trafficked. The UNICEF estimated between 50,000 and 70,000 African females trafficked to Italy for prostitution, of whom 70 percent were from Nigeria.

It’s amazing that thousands of these trafficked children reach other countries as unaccompanied minors. I wonder what the immigration people ask the unaccompanied minors or the adults meeting them before they were allowed entry into the country. The children probably didn’t even speak the country’s local language. 

Trafficking has been so organized over the years that criminals can systematically recruit people, often involving relatives or persons already known to the victims. Traffickers resort to deceit with promises of education, training, and pay, only to have all these promises taken away once the victims leave their families.

As I continued to go through more articles, the answers to the common causes of trafficking are all too familiar - victim of war, poverty, gender inequality, lack of information, high demand for cheap labour, or lack of opportunities where they live. 

The victims are clearly denied their basic human rights and become exposed to serious health hazards because of the sex trade they are trapped in. They risk getting inflicted with infectious diseases, tortured into submission, drug and alcohol addictions, depression and other mental health problems as a result of their traumatic experience.  And because some have an illegal status, reported cases and convictions of traffickers either do not prosper, or never get reported at all.

However, the growing international awareness that human trafficking is a global problem crossing borders has moved governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations to take broader and tougher action against human trafficking.

Several agencies and NGOs in Nigeria related to anti-trafficking were organized to address the problem:

  • The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – International (CATW)  which promotes women’s human rights by working internationally in the fight against sexual exploitation
  • The National Council of Women Societies (NCWS)
  • Women Trafficking and Child Labor Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF)
  • National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), a 585-employee agency nationwide with 109 investigators and 27 prosecutors dedicated to anti-trafficking
  • NPF, established in 2005, staffed 22 units in states with the worst trafficking problems
  • The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) also has anti-trafficking units to monitor illegal entries
  • National Plan of Action (NPA) on Trafficking In Persons, covers research, prevention, prosecution, and protection of victims through collaborative actions with government, law enforcement agencies, the legislature, and NGOs.
Much-needed collaboration across countries was recognized to combat the growing problem.
With this international collaboration among law enforcement agencies in place, there had been more successes in getting a clearer picture of the systematic mobilization of trafficked victims across borders. This aids the enforcement agencies in determining key locations of contact points where trafficked victims are “handed over” (The illustration below shows how human trafficking crosses some borders), and apprehending the culprits.

(Trafficking in Women from Nigeria to Europe)

In closing, it is a known fact that human trafficking is an old trade. It thrives because it’s a lucrative business for people who engage in it regardless of the mental, emotional and physical trauma inflicted on the victims. But with strict imposition of the law, collaborative cooperation of agencies and NGOs across borders, and as importantly, availability of programs to educate and make them self-sufficient enough not to want to venture or send children to unknown places, or programs to rehabilitate and reintegrate victims, we can make this world a better and more secure place to live in.

  1. Babies bred for sale in Nigeria - ENUGU, NIGERIA - Nov 09 2008 09:13

Sunday, April 01, 2012


Naila Farhat, acid attack victim
when she was 13 years old
            Fakhra Yunus (Pakistan), Katie Piper (London), Naziran Bibi (Pakistan), Naila Farhat (Pakistan) Manzoor (Pakistan), Saira Liaqat (Pakistan), Naseera Bibi (Pakistan) *

All these women have one thing in common – they’re all victims of acid attack inflicted by their boyfriend, husband or family…someone they knew.
            I’ve always been quite an emotional person and I can’t for the life of me comprehend how one could concoct in his (or her) sick mind to throw acid on someone who is supposed to be family or loved one. I can understand extreme anger where one may at some point lose control, but it still does not justify the use of violence...and definitely not throwing acid on someone. The scars can permanently disfigure the victim. Though the act does not kill, it does to a certain extent or at some point break the victim’s spirit and will to live, unless the victim gets strong support from people...people who can make them feel that they have to fight for justice and that life despite their tragedy, is still worth living.

            When Fakra Yunus jumped from the 6th floor of her flat in Italy last March 17, 2012, it revived the public uproar on the lack of action by the Pakistani government to prevent acid attacks and other forms of violence against women. Fakra endured more than 3 dozen operations after her husband’s acid attack in 2000…and it was done while her 5-year old son was watching. The attack practically destroyed her face beyond recognition. But it was also her husband’s ex-stepmother who helped her escape to Italy and endure the last 12 years of multiple surgeries to restore the damage done to her. In the end, everything became just too much for her to endure and she took her own life.
This was not the case though for Naila Farhat, also from Pakistan. She was just 13 years old when a man threw acid in her face in 2003 because her parents refused to let him marry her. But she is fighting back and encouraging other victims to do the same. Her words serve as inspiration to many like her: "I encourage other acid attack victims and tell them that they should continue fighting for their rights and should not hesitate to come out of their homes, they should come forward." Her fight is now with the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Victims in Pakistan like Naila Farhat have a big battle to fight. With a culture where violence against women seems acceptable to society, the fight for women’s rights can be quite difficult and even excruciating. And with even the police turning a blind eye due to corruption and social pressure, many victims suffer in silence, in fear…in shame, physically and mentally ruining their lives.
            Acid attacks however, do not just exist in Pakistan. They are also quite common in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Bangladesh and India. Incidents have also been reported in London, Brussels (where an attacker was recently convicted for 30 years in prison) and the United States.

The Bangladesh Acid Survivors Foundation reported that an average of 228 acid attacks have occurred each year since 1999. The Acid Survivors Foundation in Islamabad reported that around 150 women are “viciously attacked each year by men who easily obtain acid used in the cotton industry.” The Human Rights Watch reported that in 2002, 750 women were injured in acid attacks in Pakistan. The incidents have gone down since then with many women’s groups and international organizations creating awareness of the problem and helping victims pursue the case against their attackers.
Though the statistics vary from different sources, one thing remains clear. The problem exists and something has to be done about it.

With acid being an easy weapon to buy and use anywhere, there is a strong need to control or regulate its sale as well as impose stronger penalties for those who carry out the attacks. Monetary consideration should never be a means to legally exonerate an attacker. Medical, Legal, and social reintegration programs are critical and should be made available to victims. Only then can they have a chance to rebuild their lives again and become emotionally and mentally secure again, financially and socially independent again.
*Acid attack victims:

Katie Piper (London) - former TV presenter, disfigured by an acid attack by a violent boyfriend
Naila Farhat (Pakistan) - doused with acid in her face in 2003by a man because her parents refused to let him marry her.
Manzoor (Pakistan) - drenched in acid after being beaten to unconsciousness after a fight over doing the dishes
Iram Saeed (Pakistan) – victim of acid attack for rejecting a marriage proposal
Naseera Bibi (Pakistan) – attacked with acid while she was sleeping. She suspects her husband as the attacker
Derri Valarde (Arizona) - approached by an acid-wielding stranger outside her home


1) Acid Survivors Foundation

2) Acid Attacks on the Rise in South Asia(ABC News)
3) International Women's Day 2012: Drawing attention toacid attacks against women worldwide
4) Learning to Smile Again
5) Pakistan Acid Victims Rebuild Ruined Lives

The Adventure Project

If there is one thing that convinced me to support The Adventure Project, it's the fact that their projects help empower people to be self-sufficient and not be dependent on holdouts or donations.

For their water project, of the 186 well mechanics needed to be trained and hired to maintain 1/3 of the broken down wells in poor, rural regions of India, only 12 have so far been hired for 2 sites. The 186 mechanics, once hired, will help 930,000 people to have access to clean water.

Please help raise $550 to hire one mechanic by donating here:

Their website: