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A helping hand to abused, trafficked persons

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A helping hand to abused, trafficked persons

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has been involved in rehabilitating victims of human trafficking and abuse at designated shelters across the country. REGINA OTOKPA reports

 

Although life has not been so fair on 13-year-old Abimbola Aina (not real name) who was maltreated by her step mother, she never envisaged she would be living in a NAPTIP shelter heavily pregnant as a result of sexual abuse.

Abimbola, who was living with her step mother in one of the suburbs in Abuja, was raped months ago at the ever busy Area 1 while hawking sachets of pure water.

Just like Abimbola, day in, day out, the media is awash with news of all forms of abuse and human trafficking. The victims of these nefarious activities are mostly women and children, whose worlds are turned upside down psychologically, emotionally, physically and otherwise.

Worried over the multiplier effect of human trafficking on the victims, their families and the country as a whole, the Federal Government in 2003, established the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), via the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act 2003.

The Act was amended in 2005, to include other related matters and crimes that were, hitherto, not captured. The Amended Act has since been improved upon to give birth to the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act 2015, to better position NAPTIP to execute its mandate effectively.

By this, NAPTIP’s responsibilities moved beyond combating human trafficking to rehabilitation, empowerment and reintegration of victims of trafficking and abuse back to society as normal persons and even better than they first were.

To effectively carry this out, NAPTIP through its Department of Counselling and Rehabilitation, established closed shelters in unknown locations in the headquarters, which is in Abuja, and its nine zonal commands stretched across the six geopolitical zones in the country. Each shelter has certified medical personnel and psychologists deployed to provide victims with the needed attention.

Shedding more light on the operations of the department, an official who declined his name in print, explained that officially, victims were expected to spend Six weeks at the shelter except in instances where a case was tagged unusual.

“From what I know, victims are supposed to stay in the NAPTIP shelter officially for six weeks, except if it is an unusual matter.

“The work that NAPTIP is doing is exceptional and phenomenal. At NAPTIP, we investigate cases of Human Trafficking and other related matters, and then, we proceed to rescue the victims of these crimes, receive them in our shelters, counsel them, rehabilitate them, and empower them, so that they would not go back to the society and find themselves in a position where, they could be re-trafficked again.”

Inside Abuja checks revealed that the shelter is open to all categories of victims of abuse or trafficking including; children, adolescents, youths, pregnant women and even the elderly, in compliance with international standards with a control system where, all the necessary manpower is deployed to provide the expertise to attend to a particular victim.

Among such victims is Abimbola, who has been living at the Abuja NAPTIP shelter with about 50 other persons, including girls who were sexually abused, girls and boys who were maltreated, prostitutes removed from the streets, and infants, who were born at the shelter.

Offering support to NAPTIP, two nongovernmental organisation, Envision Global Care Foundation and Health Platforms International, recently paid a visit to the NAPTIP shelter in Abuja, to provide succour through some the provision of relief materials and also to spend time with the girls, educating them on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) particularly, menstrual hygiene practices.

Program Director, Envision Global Care Foundation, Chinonyerem Ndukwe, said that the relief materials such as food items, detergents and drugs, were donated to reduce the burden of NAPTIP in taking consistent care of the victims.

 

“We are here just to help the shelter. They are spending a lot of money taking care of these children. We can’t do it all but we try as much as possible to support the best way we can. We are looking forward to doing more and bringing clothes because they need clothes.”

 

Speaking on behalf of the President of the Foundation, Mr. Jerry Ikogho, she commended NAPTIP for doing a great job rehabilitating, empowering and giving the victims a new sense of direction in life.

 

“Those children, although they were victims of sexual abuse and trafficking, they are happy children and I will give kudos to NAPTIP because they have counselled them in such a way that they don’t see their problems as something big; they just look past it as one of those events that happens in life, and look forward to better things ahead of life. They are really optimistic children, very intelligent children, who are content with what they have.

“Four ladies, all victims of abuse and probably not more than 20 years of age are nursing at the moment. They enrol them in a health centre close to them. They give birth there and they bring the children back to the shelter.”

 

The representative of Health Platforms International, Stephanie Nyong, who took time enlightening 40 ladies on breast examination, WASH and menstrual hygiene, told INSIDE ABUJA that she was amazed at the high level of sanitation practices at the shelter.

 

She urged other NGOs and civil society organisations to extend support to NAPTIP saying, “they have vocational and educational settings in there. There are some sets of sewing machine and educational graphics on the wall. I encourage others to come to the aid of these girls and help them the way they can.”

Despite the commendations on the good works of NAPTIP on victims under their care, there is a call for more funding to take its operations to the next level based on global best practices.

“Though government is doing good, much is required. More is needed to push this fight to the wire. The government of Nigeria needs to beam it searchlight on NAPTIP. Human trafficking should be given priority in the National scheme of things.

 

“Adequate funding, more funding, even more funding because the responsibility is enormous and the wherewithal to confront these responsibilities is limited,” the NAPTIP official said.

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