When I arrived in Benin City, I wasn’t able to make calls with my mobile phone, so I was a bit nervous about dropping by the GPI office unexpectedly. Luckily, Mrs. Olateru-Olagbegi had phoned to let them know that I would be coming that day.
When I got to the office, Phil, the Office Manager, gave me a warm welcome, showed me around, and introduced me to everyone. After informing me that Mrs. Osakue would be in later in the afternoon for a meeting that I was invited to attend, she helped me make phone calls to the other NGOs on my list to set up appointments. Given that I had no idea how to get around Benin City, she asked Ety, a GPI graduate and intern, to escort me.
Ety is a nineteen year old, shy but self-assured young woman who had successfully completed GPI’s three-year comprehensive girls’ education program, which focuses on reproductive health and rights and assertiveness. In her third year, she did an intervention on rape and incest in her mother’s village.
GPI’s girls’ education program reflects their vision of “educating girls into healthy, self-reliant, productive, and confident women for the achievement of positive changes and transformation of patriarchal values in Nigeria.” GPI also has research libraries and resource centers in the four states, and provides counseling and referral services for girls who are dealing with cases of rape, sexual abuse, family and relationship problems, and trafficking.
GPI’s anti-trafficking activities are preventative in nature. According to Mrs. Osakue, girls who go through comprehensive sex education are better able to resist trafficking because of the self awareness, coping skills, and assertiveness that they learn. GPI is concerned about trafficking in both its internal and external forms. The offices Akwa-Ibom and Delta States work on internal trafficking. Mrs. Osakue pointed out that despite the fact that external trafficking gets more attention, internal trafficking may actually be worse because “the girl trafficked to Europe usually doesn’t die, and is at least able to earn money, but the girl trafficked internally only gets N7500 ($55) for a whole year of exploitation.”
Posted By Erica Williams
Posted Apr 9th, 2007