A court in the southern Nigerian city of Benin has jailed a 31-year-old father of five for human trafficking in what human rights activists consider a significant victory against a growing problem.
Justice J.A. Acha of the city's high court jailed Constance Omoruyi for two years in addition to fining him 150,000 naira (US $1,171) on charges related to trafficking two women to work as prostitutes in Europe. The charges were brought by the government’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons.
Over the past two decades Nigeria's Edo state, whose capital is Benin city, has acquired the reputation of being a major recruiting ground for criminal rings that traffic women abroad to work as prostitutes, mainly in Italy. Many of the women are tricked into debt and forced to work as sex slaves to pay it off.
Rights bodies fighting human trafficking have applauded the conviction as important in battling a widespread tolerance of the criminal rings.
“Each time someone is convicted a message is being sent out by the authorities that this practice is unacceptable,” said Temitope Ayeni, a social worker who has worked with trafficked women.
Bisi Olateru-Olagbegi, who heads the Women Consortium of Nigeria, an NGO dedicated to fighting the trafficking of women, recalls that less than a decade ago no legislation outlawing human trafficking existed. Recent convictions of traffickers indicate a significant change resulting from efforts to combat the practice, she said.
“If you have legislation and it is being implemented, you can say it is working,” said Olateru-Olagbegi.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions