Edo State in Nigeria is where a reported 90% of trafficking victims come from. Why this is the case people explain by culture, poverty, breakdown of the family unit, and lack of education and awareness. What the main causes for these problems no one seems to quite be able to put their finger on, but there are many NGOs in Benin dedicated to at least combating the lack of education and awareness.
In fact, NGOs in Benin have successfully lobbied the Edo State government to require sex education to be taught in all secondary schools throughout the state. Although it was only a state resolution that was passed just weeks ago, lawmakers and NGOs are working together to turn the resolution into a law with penalties for schools that do not comply with the education requirements.
Incorporated into the education is awareness of the dangers of trafficking and HIV, seen as very related issues. Edo State, number one in trafficking victims, is reportedly number five out of 36 states in Nigeria for the prevalence of HIV, although this could be higher. HIV testing is voluntary, and the stigmatization of both HIV and prostitution creates an intimidating environment for trafficking victims to seek help. As one counselor at a Benin NGO stated, “Many girls deported from Europe after being trafficked
come back to Benin City for a quiet death.” The girls are afraid of being rejected by their families and society, and despite efforts to sensitize the community and provide counseling, a gap remains that victims fall into, leaving them to die of AIDS without a fight.
I have confidence that the NGOs dedicated to spreading awareness and sensitizing communities and individuals regarding HIV and trafficking will result in a reduction of trafficking victims from Edo State, a reduction in the prevalence of HIV, and an increase in support and acceptance of individuals that have been victims of trafficking and HIV. However, this will be a long process and these NGOs need as much international support as possible.
Posted By laura jones
Posted Oct 5th, 2006